Richmond groups team up to fight the opioid epidemic: ‘First Responders for Recovery’

RICHMOND, Va. -- Richmond Ambulance Authority (RAA) and the Richmond City Health District (RCHD) are teaming up in the fight against the opioid epidemic through a program called, "First Responders for Recovery."

The goal is to help get more people into treatment.

"We know we can’t just treat the overdose and not let the person get the services they really need because the overdose is just the symptom. The disease is addiction," said Attorney General Mark Herring, in a press conference Friday.

In that press conference, the RAA along with the RCHD announced the program to do just that. At the center of it -- RCHD's Peer Recovery Specialist, Courtney Nunnally.

Courtney Nunnally

Nunnally is a recovering heroin addict herself. She teaches first responders ways to encourage patients to sign a release form following an overdose. Those who do will be contacted by Nunnally within 48 hours and offered help to get them to a recovery center.

Nunnally said her experience with a first responder is what turned her life around.

"I ended up relapsing and several months later I encountered Sgt. Scarpa with the Richmond Police Department. He offered something that I had long lost -- he offered hope. He offered support. And I didn’t care if I lived or died at that point," said Nunnally.

The program was launched in May. Since then 29 patients have signed a release form and three patients have successfully been connected to a recovery center.

Nunnally said that if anyone would like to seek her help, they can call her at 804-624-7224.

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