Governor Meets With Officials for Update on Overdose Response Strategy

Health Commissioner Justa Encarnacion, VIPD Commissioner Designee Ray Martinez and Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. meet with HIDTA officials about the Overdose Response Strategy on Dec. 9, 2021. (Submitted photo)

Gov. Albert Bryan Jr., Health Commissioner Justa Encarnacion and Police Commissioner Designee Ray Martinez met Thursday, Dec. 9, on St. Thomas with members of the (PRVI HIDTA) High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force for an update on the law enforcement unit’s new Overdose Response Strategy.

High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, which is federally funded but locally administered, comprises various law enforcement agencies that team up to stop drug trafficking in the region and around the country.

High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area’s Overdose Response Strategy (ORS) is an effort to stem the growing drug crisis resulting from the widening use of opioids and now fentanyl by increasing the exchange of information between the law enforcement and health care sectors. High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area units across the United States are implementing the Overdose Response Strategy, taking a data-driven approach to supporting law enforcement efforts and preventive/educational outreach against the impact of opioid and fentanyl abuse.

PRVI High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area has selected former St. Thomas Police Chief and V.I. Police Department Commissioner Rodney Querrard as the Overdose Response Strategy Drug Intelligence Officer. Commissioner Encarnacion said she is identifying Department of Health personnel who can serve as public health analysts.

A primary topic of Thursday’s meeting, which was to update Governor Bryan on the status of the Overdose Response Strategy initiative in the U.S. Virgin Islands, was how to properly deploy Naloxone, also known as Narcan, which can reverse the effects of an overdose for users and law enforcement officers at risk from handling highly toxic substances, such as fentanyl.

Encarnacion also noted that the territory’s hospitals should be included in future discussions of the Overdose Response Strategy efforts, and Querrard said the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area already has conducted a two-day educational outreach at Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic School, and similar programs are scheduled for February at other high schools in both districts.