U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Fire-led First Responder Deflection: Spotlight on Anne Arundel County, Maryland, and Tucson, Arizona, Fire Departments

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2024
5 pages

This brief by the Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant, and Substance Use Program (COSSUP) and its partners highlights the roll-out of fire department–led first-responder deflection programs in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, and Tucson, Arizona.


This publication by the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant, and Substance Use Program (COSSUP), along with the Center for Health & Justice at TASC and the International Association of Fire Chiefs, discusses fire-led first responder deflection programs implemented by fire departments in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, and Tucson, Arizona. Fire departments, as first-line responders, see the impact of opioid use disorder (OUD) firsthand. Both Anne Arundel County, a suburban county in Maryland on the outskirts of Baltimore and Washington, D.C., and Tucson, the second-largest city in Arizona, have experienced the challenges of opioid use in their communities and have implemented first responder deflection programs in their fire departments to support individuals with opioid and/or other substance use disorders (SUDs). There are numerous programs across the country designed to support first responder deflection for individuals with OUD or other SUDs. Often, the fire departments, EMS, and law enforcement personnel who run these calls are in the best position to make a positive difference on residents’ lives as they administer care and identify those in their communities who are most at risk. Identifying the program model that is most likely to be successful in an area begins with identifying the needs of the specific community; determining the local, state, and federal funding available; and bringing all of the relevant partners to the table for a discussion on positive intervention.

Date Published: January 1, 2024