Personnel from Mifflin Township Division of Fire, the Gahanna Divison of Police and Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools are joining forces to educate the community about the local heroin and opiate epidemic.

Mifflin Township Division of Fire will hold a town hall to engage Gahanna and township residents in a discussion at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 20, at Clark Hall, 380 Granville St. in Gahanna.

"We want to engage residents, business and community leaders in a conversation about prevention of this epidemic in our own city," said Fred Kauser, Mifflin fire chief. "Our neighbors, co-workers, friends and families are impacted by addiction and it's time for each of us to get involved in some way."

The goal is to inform residents about the challenges and impact of opiate addiction within Gahanna, discuss fire and police response, and share ideas about engaging the community in supporting addicted individuals and their families, according to Kauser.

He said he hopes to draw participation from neighborhood and civic associations, service organizations, faith-based organizations and community and business leaders.

Firefighters have responded to an increase in overdoses in recent months in Gahanna, several of which involved individuals who were unable to be resuscitated, according to Kauser.

Gahanna police Lt. Tom Basso said heroin and its impact are not a law-enforcement issue alone.

"It is a community issue," he said. "It is one that requires us all to work together to save lives."

Basso said the town hall is a critical step in educating residents about heroin and opiate use.

"Through this forum, we hope to bring everyone together to combat the epidemic through knowledge, compassion and resolve to save lives," he said.

In the Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools, a number of families have been affected by the opioid epidemic, according to school officials.

As a result, the district has been proactive in providing information to students and their families about the dangers of opiate use.

"In central Ohio and across the nation, opioid addiction is a pervasive problem, said Steve Barrett, district superintendent.

"We appreciate the opportunity to partner with the Mifflin Township Division of Fire and the Gahanna Division of Police to educate our families and community about the pernicious effects of addiction. It is important that we respond to this issue together and pool our resources to help those who are suffering."

For more information about the upcoming town hall, or to obtain information if unable to attend, contact the Mifflin Township Division of Fire Community Paramedic at 614-471-0542 or Gahanna Division of Police Deputy Chief Jeff Spence at 614-342-4240.