By Mark Powell
Billboards for a Cause
“This started because Amber wasn’t afraid to start the conversation,” Paul Miller, Division Chief of EMS (Crawfordsville Fire Department) begins. And that initial conversation is making a big impact in this rural county of 38,000 people.
Crawfordsville is the seat of Montgomery County, ranked the ninth most at-risk in the state for opioid addiction. When Scott County’s HIV outbreak made national headlines, the state identified which counties needed the most focus and resources. And Montgomery County was high on the list.
So Amber Reed and her team decided to do something about it. A billboard went up in March 2016 highlighting the problem by showing a person with a needle in their arm. “The community was up in arms,” recalls Reed, department administrator at the Montgomery County Health Department. “There were calls to take it down. It was only intended to be up for 30 days, so we kept it up.”
That sparked a conversation about the county’s ranking. In fact, it was the first time many people had ever talked about the local problem. The Crawfordsville Quick Response Team was soon founded to discuss what could be done in the community. They brought everyone to the table: law enforcement, courts, paramedicine, coroner, schools, hospitals, probation, mental health, some 25 different stakeholders in all representing prevention, education, response, law enforcement/courts, and recovery.
Then things began to happen. There was no nalo