Blue CARES is a collaborative program between Berks County Law Enforcement and the Council on Chemical Abuse (COCA) that encourages individuals to seek treatment for addiction after being revived with NARCAN® Nasal Spray by a police officer.
Following an overdose, a COCA representative and Berks County law enforcement officer visit the home of the overdose survivor and family. Together, they engage with the survivor, offering to help him or her access treatment and/or support services. If the individual accepts help, an immediate referral is made for appropriate services. If no one is home during a Blue CARES visit, the police officer and COCA representatives leave literature about substance use disorder treatment, as well as information about resources and services available.
Our Blue Cares – Next Step program provides law enforcement with the tools to assist individuals with stimulant or opioid misuse issues who are arrested to be referred to treatment as an alternative to the criminal justice system.
Exeter Police Officer Daniel Homm was honored in November 2020 as a Red Cross Law Enforcement Hero for his work helping opioid abuse and overdose victims. “Daniel leads the department for the most lives saved with the help of Narcan,” a Red Cross announcement stated. But his work goes beyond administering Narcan. He also has frequently volunteered to participate in Blue Cares visits to overdose survivors, accompanying Brian Kammerer, a drug and alcohol program specialist with the Council on Chemical Abuse.
In 2021 Berks County Law Enforcement officers conducted 177 home visits resulting in 33 engagements with overdose survivors. We were also able to contact a family member 38 times, providing them with education and information about support groups and services in their communities. Since the program’s inception, there have been 366 Blue CARES visits involving 25 police departments resulting in 66 engagements with overdose survivors and 72 with family members.
Even when no one is available at the time of the home visit, the police officer and certified recovery specialist always leave information behind, including their contact information. Often times a family member or overdose survivor makes contact after the initial visit, and a referral can be made at that point.
All Berks County Police Departments participate in the Blue CARES Program, in addition to the Berks County Detectives and Penn State Berks Police Department.
177Blue Cares Visits
33Engagements with survivors
38Family members contacted