Pittsburgh Emergency Medical Services [EMS] District Chief Jennifer McDermott-Grubb has watched the opioid epidemic build momentum for over a decade. For many years, she left work at the station at the end of her shift. After her daughter was born, rescuing heroin users from overdose started to haunt her.
A little over a year ago, she completed a call for a young man who had overdosed and died. As soon as the call was over, McDermott-Grubb rushed to her daughter’s daycare and entered her class unannounced.
She scooped her toddler up and held her tight.
To McDermott-Grubb, that young man’s overdose call felt both familiar and singular. After he developed heroin addiction while in college, the man’s family did everything they could to keep him alive. His parents retired early and relocated from the Carolinas to Pittsburgh, where he was attending school. They moved into his apartment building to help him recover. They kept his medicine in their home and monitored his dosing. They made plans with him, transported him to meetings and kept a key to his apartment.
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