First response

Pancake breakfast feeds Safe Station program

NASHUA – Nashua’s Safe Stations program received a boost Friday as hundreds came out to Harbor Homes for a pancake breakfast fundraiser.

All proceeds from the First Responder Pancake Breakfast will go toward the program, which has helped more than 160 people since it started last November.

Nashua Police Chief Andrew Lavoie, with the assistance of Nashua Fire Rescue and Harbor Homes staff, doled out the fluffy breakfast classic with a side of maple syrup and butter.

Safe Stations, modeled after a program in Manchester, allows someone dealing with addiction to go to any fire station in the city, day or night, to get help. Within 20 minutes, a trained Harbor Homes recovery support provider responds to transport the person to one of three locations, where substance use disorder treatment, behavioral and primary health care, and emergency shelter are provided.

Peter Kelleher, president and CEO of Harbor Homes, said he is grateful to be able to help.

“In September and October, there were seven fatalities each month (in Nashua) due to the opiate crisis that we’re facing right now,” Kelleher said. “Something had to be done, and we’re honored that (Donchess) asked us to try to help and be part of the solution.”

With its current resources, Harbor Homes must send some individuals to residential services for long-term recovery, but the organization is in the process of developing a 55-bed recovery center on Northeastern Boulevard.

For now, Kelleher said, Harbor Homes is clearing out some office space to provide more beds at its main facility.

In addition to the many individuals who have used the program, Donchess said the number of overdoses has gone down since the program was initiated.

“Maybe that’s a sign that people are getting help,” he said.

Donchess estimated the event would raise about $10,000 that will go primarily toward funding transportation resources for the program.

Nashua Fire Chief Steven Galipeau agreed with Donchess’ assessment that the program is working.

“The more folks that are aware of it, the more the programs out there, the more folks we can help,” Galipeau said.

While some of his staff members were skeptical at first, Galipeau said, now he hears only positive comments about it.

Nashua Fire Capt. James Kirk is one of those firefighters who supports the Safe Stations program.

“One of the things that struck me in almost every one of the cases is how thankful the people looking for help are,” Kirk said. “They’re genuinely interested in making a change in their lives.”

Also in attendance was U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, a supporter of the program.

Hassan said that while Safe Stations seem to be effective in Nashua and Manchester, it isn’t necessarily a model that would work for all cities in the state.

“I think that every city has to evaluate their own capacity to put together a program like Safe Stations,” she said.

Hassan stressed that Safe Stations rely on resources provided by the Affordable Care Act, and she said she encourages people to ask their elected officials to support the act.

Derek Edry can be reached at 594-1243, or @Telegraph_Derek.