Helping hand: City Fire Department embraces role as PAARI location | Top Story

BATAVIA — More than ever, people struggling with substance use disorder need to know there are places they can go for immediate help — free of judgment and criminal implications.

That’s why Genesee County’s network of Public Safety Assisted Addiction & Recovery Initiative locations are considered important.

This month marked the second anniversary of the opening of the PAARI site at the City of Batavia Fire Department — a significant event as the department is the first from New York State to participate in PAARI and one of only a few fire companies in a network of more than 600 police and public safety agencies in 34 states.

“We wholeheartedly believe in the PAARI program,” said Fire Captain Greg Ireland, “so much so that we’ve incorporated this program into the training and orientation of new firefighters coming out of the academy.”

Ireland said community members have come to the fire headquarters on Evans Street for support in recent months, just as others dealing with substance use disorder have reached out to the county’s other PAARI locations — the Batavia City Police Department, Le Roy Police Department and Genesee County Sheriff’s Office.

He also said firefighters regularly give out the business cards and postcards featuring the “help hotline” phone numbers when they go out on emergency medical service calls.

“It’s just another level of involvement that we can try to reach out to the community and offer them the help they may need and the resources that they’re out there,” he said.

Funded by the Greater Rochester Health Foundation, the City of Batavia Fire Department on Evans Street renovated its foyer area for the PAARI program and opened to the public in March 2020. Due to the COVID-19 shutdown, however, the grand opening event that was scheduled for that spring had to be postponed.

An official launch took place on July 13, 2021, with more than 50 people – including Allie Hunter, PAARI’s executive director – in attendance.

“This month, we are celebrating two years of the Batavia Fire Department as a PAARI partner and a great resource to those that may be in need of services in our community,” said Christen Ferraro, coordinator of the GOW Opioid Task Force. “Throughout the pandemic, all locations continued to be open and available for our residents.”

PAARI provides support and resources to help law enforcement agencies nationwide create non-arrest pathways to treatment and recovery. Anyone in the community dealing with addiction issues can walk into these locations, any time of the day or night and receive help, without judgment.

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