Quick Response Teams (QRT) are interdisciplinary overdose response teams comprised of law enforcement, EMS, peer recovery mentors and counseling staff who collaborate to provide outreach and education to individuals and families following an overdose. The ECI team had an opportunity to interview Danielle Ratcliff, CEO of R.E.A.C.H. for Tomorrow, and Creed Culbreath, Collaboration Director of R.E.A.C.H. for Tomorrow, about Highland County’s QRT.
Culbreath described how the Highland County QRT had a unique approach from the start, as it went above and beyond overdose response. Culbreath discussed how “our current care coordinator does [go on deployments] which is nice because we can often arrange treatment in real-time in the person’s home. We can often leave with them set up with their first appointment or assessment. We do follow-up, we offer multiple other services [such as connection to Medicaid, childcare, job services, etc.], that I think originally differentiated us from a lot of [other] QRT.” He also described how the importance of using screening tools such as “screen[ing] for their [the individual who experienced an overdose] nutrition, their physical health.”
Both Culbreath and Ratcliff emphasized the connection between trauma and addiction. Culbreath reported, “one thing that’s been a differentiator for us from the start, we screen for trauma, childhood and early adult, as a driver of addiction – also human trafficking.” Ratcliff also said, “we realized we’ve got to address trauma, we can’t just address mental health [or addiction] because they all overlap. R.E.A.C.H wants to reach that need.”
The Highland County QRT also recognizes the importance of diversity on their team, as Culbreath stated, “we always try to have men and women [on the QRT], we wanted to have [individuals of] different races and ethnicities, so that no matter who we went to see, they could at least identify with one person on the team. We were able to build a team that was representative of everybody in the community.”
Finally, both Culbreath and Ratcliff processed the meaning they find in their work. Ratcliff acknowledged the reward that comes with working to empower the community, “when people get the ‘aha’ and then they are willing to back it up with their time to create change in their community.” Culbreath reported one of the most impactful parts of the job is the grateful comments he receives from others, as “the feedback is what keeps us going.” He recounted appreciate comments from family members whose loved ones received services from the QRT such as, “I struggled for years alone trying to find the right place for my son – nothing seemed to work, and you all took the time to listen and see what his or her needs really were and connect him with therapists. And now I feel like I’ve got this person back in my life.”