DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — A new program in Daytona Beach is aimed at fighting drug addiction and bringing recovery into the home. The Drug Abuse Response Team (DART), is a joint effort between fire, police, and mental health professionals to bring resources directly to those who need them most. 

What You Need To Know

  •  Daytona Beach has formed a team to bring addiction resources to people who need them

  •  The Drug Abuse Response Team (DART) goes to homes where someone has recently overdosed

  • They give the individual and their family information on addiction recovery resources and Narcan

Daytona Beach Community Paramedicine Officer Travis Anderson is one of the members of DART.

“There obviously is an opioid crisis that is going on throughout the state of Florida and in Daytona Beach, but with the pandemic we’ve seen those numbers kind of creep up a little bit more that we are used to," said Anderson.

According to the Daytona Beach Fire Department, in the last year, they’ve responded to 732 overdose calls. That is nearly double the calls they received the year before. 

That's one of the reasons they agencies came together to create DART. The goal is to identify drug users and assist in bringing them to recovery programs. 

“We are bringing those resources together and we are able to find out who clicks best with them that they can pair up with and then work them through the steps of getting the recovery they need,” said Anderson. 

The team visits about 12 homes a week, going to addresses where someone has overdosed in the last three days. 

“At that point, they’ve had a little bit of time to detox off of it just a little bit to where we can talk to them with our heads being clear, and try to offer them the recovery that is out there,” said Anderson. 

Once there, they talk to the person about their options and leave them information packets to help get them into recovery and assistance programs. They also leave Narcan, a nasal spray that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. 

“There is more need than there are resources available, so its very tough sometimes to find places for people to go,” said Mellonese Mayfield, a DART member from SMA Healthcare

While not everyone responds, Anderson said sometimes the help is welcomed. As the team spoke to one person who overdosed this week, their family member, who did not want to be identified because of an investigation, shared that she’s thrilled to see them. 

“I welcome a group like this and team coming out to stop and to monitor the progress of what is going on, because if it wasn’t for them, we would have been planning a funeral,” said the family member. 

She is confident her family member will use the resources they provided and hopes others do the same. 

“This was a wake up call and thanks to the fine team that came out and helped her and supported her, she is no longer a concern of our family, but it needs to stop," said the family member. 

For Anderson, even reaching one person worth the hard work — and is a step toward changing Daytona Beach. 

“It is a great feeling, especially if we get somebody that says, 'Yes I am ready and I want to do this,' I mean, it just makes our day,” said Anderson.

The DART program launched in January and is funded through the three partner organizations. According to the fire department, the team has already visited and provided resources to more than 30 people. ​