Dallas Fire-Rescue launches overdose response team

The alarming increase in drug overdoses has led Dallas Fire-Rescue to create a team of first responders with Narcan and special training.

DFR started the overdose response team earlier this year in large part due to the dramatic rise in fentanyl overdose cases. Many of the victims are young teenagers.

The team is joining forces with Dallas ISD this weekend to help educate students and their parents about the dangers of the potent drug.

The Dallas Fire-Rescue overdose response team is busy. A rise in fentanyl overdoses is to blame.

Master firefighter-paramedic Jarrod Gilstrap is part of the two-member team.

"I’ll go out and follow up with that patient to see if they need some services," he said. 


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Gilstrap is assisted by a recovery support peer specialist. Thursday, it was Dan Midgett with Recovery Resource Council.

The duo visits with Dallas residents who recently suffered opioid overdoses — often fentanyl — to offer services and Narcan, a spray used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

According to DFR, in 2020, crews on the front lines working overdose calls administered Narcan 942 times.

In 2022, that number more than doubled to 2,100, and the average age appears to be getting younger.

"I see the 13-year-old kid who took a pill from a friend who’s unconscious and has unfortunately passed away," Gilstrap said.

That's why the DFR overdose response team is joining forces with Dallas ISD to bring awareness about the deadly dangers of the drug.

"With fentanyl on the streets, you make one wrong decision, and that’s it," Gilstrap said.

On Saturday, Dallas ISD will host a community fentanyl meeting in collaboration with the city at Townview High School Center.

"I want to be able to go in there and tell those kids don’t take a pill from a friend. If you don’t know where it came from, don’t take it," Gilstrap said.

The district is also training its nurses to administer Narcan, and all schools should be equipped with the inhaler by the end of May.

The overdose response team hopes education will help save lives.

"You want to give a child or young adult a second chance to make a decision to quit," Gilstrap said.

The Dallas ISD parent information forum will be this Saturday at Townview Center from 8 a.m. to noon. Resources will be available in English and Spanish.