Oregon Declares State Of Emergency Over Fentanyl Crisis

Oregon officials on January 30 declared a coordinated “Fentanyl Emergency” for downtown Portland, the Associated Press reported.

The emergency, declared by Governor Tina Kotek, Multnomah County Chair Jessica Vega Pederson, and Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, will run for 90 days during which response and collaboration will be coordinated from a command center in downtown Portland.

The officials directed their respective government agencies to coordinate with first responders to connect addicts with resources like drug treatment programs and help crack down on the sale of synthetic opioids.

In a January 30 statement, Governor Kotek said that Oregon and the United States had “never seen a drug” as deadly and addictive as fentanyl. She said that she, along with Mayor Wheeler and County Chair Pederson “recognize the need to act with urgency and unity” to “make a dent in this crisis.”

The Fentanyl Emergency was a recommendation made by the governor’s task force that met last year to determine ways to revitalize downtown Portland.

Fentanyl addicts who interact with Portland first responders during the 90-day emergency will be triaged by the downtown command center where staff can connect them to various resources, including appointments with behavioral clinicians, placement in drug treatment facilities, and even applying for food stamps.

The command team will be led by Portland’s Director of Community Safety Mike Myers. Deputy Policy Chief for Oregon’s Office of Resilience and Emergency Management Nathan Reynolds will serve as the state’s incident commander.

The Portland Police Bureau will partner with the Oregon State Police to jointly patrol downtown for fentanyl dealers. The Fentanyl Emergency will also include various information campaigns throughout the region on recovery and prevention programs. Additionally, Multnomah County will expand training and outreach on how to administer the overdose-reversal drug Narcan.

Governor Kotek said in her statement that the 90-day emergency would provide a “road map” for determining the next steps in combatting opioid abuse in the city.