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Salem Fire and EMS personnel undergo training to better respond to drug-related emergencies

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SALEM, Va. – The opioid epidemic is being felt by first responders all across the Roanoke Valley.

In Salem, fire and emergency medical services personnel just finished days of training to better respond to overdose calls and drug-related emergencies. 

"Day to day, you run a lot of calls. You tend to get jaded with the calls that you run. This puts the human aspect in it. You realize it's somebody's brother, it's somebody's sister, it's somebody's son," said John Prillaman, Salem Fire and EMS chief. 

Prillaman said a local mother sparked the idea for new training. She wanted to know what resources were available in the community to help with substance abuse. 

"We're really good at providing medical care, but we didn't have those answers for her," said Prillaman. 

So the department contacted the Roanoke Valley Hope Initiative to learn more about resources in the area for families. It also learned about how to approach the subject with patients and people at the scene. In addition, it has developed a pamphlet, containing resources, that can be handed out to patients and their families at the scene of an overdose. 

"I want them to know that we care about them as a person and that we want to try to help and be part of the solution," said Prillaman.