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Community Safety Department Begins Responding to Needle Pickup Calls

Members of the Community Safety Department
Team photo of Community Safety Department

Starting this week, the Cambridge Community Safety Department’s CARE (Community Assistance Response and Engagement) Team began responding to needle pickup calls in public spaces across Cambridge. Needle pickup calls are the first call types that the CARE Team is being dispatched to. They will be responding to a wide-range of incident types (e.g. check person, notify citizen, psych/mental health, request for service, sick person, unsheltered person, and unwanted person) beginning in the spring of 2024.

If a community member finds needles or syringes in public places (e.g., streets, sidewalks, parks, city buildings) in Cambridge, they can call the City’s Emergency Communications Center’s 24/7 non-emergency number at 617-349-3300. If the needles or syringes pose an immediate safety threat, call 911. If possible, wait for Community Safety, Fire or EMS personnel to arrive so that you can help them locate the items. Once a call, text, or email is received, the city’s Emergency Communications Department will dispatch the Community Safety, Fire Department or Pro EMS to retrieve and dispose of the items.

If a resident wishes to remain anonymous, they can:

“We are thrilled to have our CARE Team members responding to select call types,” said Liz Speakman, Director of the Community Safety Department. “After many months of training and community outreach, they are eager to make a difference in the community.”

“Having the CARE Team involved in needle pickup calls will help free up our fire department and EMS personnel, so they can respond to critical emergencies,” said Acting Chief Thomas Cahill, Cambridge Fire Department.

Over the course of 2023, the Cambridge Fire Department responded to nearly 350 needle pickup calls. Deputy Chief Matthew Wood of the CFD guided the Community Safety Department through an informative needle pickup training session, emphasizing safety protocols and operational expectations. In addition, CFD generously provided critical equipment for needle pickup, including sharps containers, surgical gloves, and protective masks.

From September through November 2023, the Cambridge CARE Team completed 12 weeks and 360 hours of training. This training included de-escalation, conflict meditation, harm reduction, communication and structural dynamics, CPR and First Aid, sharps disposal, boundary setting, first responder training, and much more. In addition to classroom training, CARE responders received valuable field experience. Upon completing the 12-week training program, the CARE Team transitioned to engaging in community outreach opportunities across Cambridge at the Library branches, YWCA, First Step, Food for Free, Christ Church Cambridge, Cambridge Housing Authority sites, and other community sites.

To learn more about the Community Safety Department, including its most recent February update, please visit www.cambridgesafety.org or emailinfo@cambridgesafety.org. You can also subscribe to the Cambridge CARE Team monthly newsletter at https://lp.constantcontactpages.com/sl/tzfuwFQ.

Please find the following safety tips as it pertains to needles or syringes:

Page was posted on 2/23/2024 9:33 AM
Page was last modified on 2/26/2024 9:32 AM
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