SMITHFIELD, R.I. (WPRI) — Starting Monday, Smithfield’s three fire stations will become safe spaces for those struggling with addiction.
Smithfield is the latest community in Rhode Island to launch the safe station program, joining Providence, East Providence and Woonsocket.
The safe stations aren’t the same as harm reduction centers, where people struggling with addiction can use under the supervision of medical professionals. Instead, they strictly offer resources to those looking to quit.
“The need is out there and people need help and people need somewhere easy to get to and easy to get in and a comfortable situation,” Smithfield Town Manager Randy Rossi said.
Firefighters and EMTs will also provide immediate assistance before connecting individuals with a recovery professional through Gateway Health.
“Ninety-nine percent of the time they don’t want to die,” Health Clinical Coordinator for Gateway Amy McCarthy said. “They are using substances for whatever reason, and we want to make sure that they have the resources to save their own lives or save the lives of somebody that they love.”
Pawtucket is also slated to launch its own version of the program next year. Public Health and Equity Leader Elizabeth Moreira tells 12 News Pawtucket’s harm reduction stations will be similar to Smithfield’s, except they’ll also offer fentanyl testing strips.
“For people who don’t want to accidentally die over just trying to fill a void of maybe getting a pill once,” Moreira said.
The Rhode Island Department of Health is now working with an overdose prevention task force to come up with rules and regulations.