The King County Heroin Crisis Task Force recommended at least two safe injection sites for drug users on Thursday.
The task force will wait 90 days to get feedback from the community on the idea of two location sites in King County: one located within Seattle and one outside city limits.
This move could make Seattle the first city in the United States with a safe injection site. KIRO 7 News went inside a safe injection site in Vancouver, where the King County task force heard first-hand experiences.
Here’s what we learned about the safe injection site in Vancouver. An injection site in King County could run similarly.
Does the Vancouver clinic give users drugs?
What does the clinic provide?
The clinic provides free, clean supplies. "People often go with a cooker, alcohol, need a tie for your arm, a bit of water,” clinic manager Andy Day told KIRO 7 News in March.
What is inside the clinic?
Staff members at the clinic refer to people who seek help as clients. Clients take their supplies to one of 13 booths fitted with mirrors and inject themselves under the watchful eyes of health care professionals. The booths are almost always full.
What happens if a user can’t get to a booth?
When a KIRO 7 News crew was in Vancouver, we saw people injecting on the street -- they told us because of the wait to get a booth. "Waiting a half hour or 45 minutes is just really a long time for an addict,” William says.
Are those people arrested?
Vancouver police don't arrest them; they redirect them to Insite. The idea is to get them connected to other social services -- detox, counseling, transitional living. The clinic recently expanded hours to being open 24 hours a day in order to address an overdose spike in the community. People can be barred from the site.
Do staff members help users inject?
No. “We can show them techniques and how to do things, but we don't inject anybody,” Day said.
What do staff members do?
Staff members and nurses are on hand to monitor and respond to overdoses. If someone comes into the site wounded, staff helps them to get to a doctor.
Since opening in 2003, Day says the overdose death rate in the area around Insite has dropped 35 percent, and saving addicts in the clinic costs three million taxpayer dollars a year.
Day says that's cheaper than treating them in the hospital for the drugs, or diseases contracted because of the drugs.
Opponents said a consumption site condones drug use.
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