First responders weigh in on needle exchange programs

Local News
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CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – A newly released survey of Charleston first responders reveals stiff resistance to any type of needle exchange program returning to the Capitol City.

The anonymous survey, conducted by the City Public Safety Committee includes members of the City Police, Fire, Refuse and Public Grounds Departments.

“I want to thank the First Responders, Refuse, and Public Grounds employees for their service,” Public Safety Committee Member Shannon Snodgrass said. “We, as citizens, all entrust our lives and safety to our First Responders, so I am in hopes we listen to them now. It is loud and clear our first
responders believe that needle programs are bad for Charleston. If City Council and Administration ignore the results of this survey and support needle distributions without accountability measures suggested then they have ignored our First Responders, which would be abhorrent and irresponsible.”

  • 86.76% of respondents say they do not believe the Health Department’s Needle Program was good for the City of Charleston.
  • 83.09% of respondents say they believe the Health Department’s Needle Program led to an increase in crime.
  • 89.71% of respondents say they believe Needle Programs increase the likelihood of an accidental needle prick for the public at large, Refuse employees, or First Responders performing their job duties.
  • 89.71% of respondents say they believe that Needle Programs increase syringe litter throughout the community.
  • 83.09% of respondents say they believe that Needle Programs result in an increase in the number of intravenous drug users coming into the City of Charleston from outside areas.
  • 88.97% of respondents say they believe participants in a needle program should be required to meet with a medical professional during each visit to the program.
  • 91.91% of respondents say they believe participants in a needle exchange program should be required to return their used needles to receive new ones.
  • 83.82% of respondents say they do not believe additional needs programs are needed in the City of Charleston.
  • 52.21% of respondents have not been asked for their opinion regarding needle exchange programs in the City of Charleston
  • 16.91% of respondents have been stuck by a needle in the course of their work with the City of Charleston.
  • 77.94% of respondents know how to properly handle syringe litter.

“The results of this survey and clear and emphatic,” City Council Public Safety Committee Member Bruce King said. “Our First Responders are overwhelmingly against needle programs.
It’s also clear, based on many of the comments, that our first responders are compassionate and caring towards those struggling with drug addiction.”

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