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Maryland Opioid Operational Command Center:

WHAT – The Maryland Opioid Operational Command Center (Center) was established by Executive Order [01.01.2017.01] as part of the Hogan Administration’s 2017 Heroin and Opioid Prevention, Treatment, and Enforcement Initiative. The Center will provide an over-arching picture of Maryland’s Heroin and Opioid crisis to understand the current landscape and build upon ongoing community-based approaches to address this crisis by increasing collaboration between state and local public health, human services, education, and public safety entities.

WHY – Heroin and Opioid drug dependency surged in Maryland over the last decade, resulting in an urgent and growing public health threat affecting all demographics and geographical settings in Maryland. In response, Governor Hogan established by Executive Order a Heroin and Opioid Emergency Task Force [01.01.2015.12], a Council [01.01.2015.13], and the Center [01.01.2017.01] – composed of member agencies with expertise in addiction treatment, law enforcement, education, and prevention. A State of Emergency was declared [01.01.2017.02] as a direct result of the initial findings of the Center, empowering the emergency management system to enable rapid coordination of all state and local resources in support of public health officials.

OBJECTIVES – The Center is tasked with the following objectives:

  • Develop operational strategies to continue implementing the recommendations of the Heroin and Opioid Emergency Task Force;
  • Collect, analyze, and facilitate the sharing of data relevant to the epidemic from state and local sources while maintaining the privacy and security of sensitive personal information;
  • Develop a memorandum of understanding among state and local agencies that provides for the sharing and collection of health and public safety information and data relating to the heroin and opioid epidemic;
  • Assist and support local agencies in the creation of opioid intervention teams; and
  • Coordinate the training of and provide resources for state and local agencies addressing the threat to the public health, security, and economic well-being of the State.

WHO – The Center supports translation of strategic direction from the Council to federal, state, and local partners who implement the various multidisciplinary opioid reduction programs across the state [Figure 1]. It is a collaborative effort working directly with both local and federal organizations and agencies, as well as state agencies and departments including, but not limited to the following:

  • Governor’s Office of Crime Control & Preventions
  • Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
  • Maryland Emergency Management Agency
  • Maryland Department of State Police
  • Maryland State Department of Education
  • Department of Human Resources
  • Department of Juvenile Services
  • Dept. of Public Safety and Correctional Services
  • MD Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems
  • Maryland Higher Education Commission
  • Maryland Insurance Administration
  • Office of the Attorney General

HOW – The organizational structure of the Center is modeled after the Incident Command System (ICS) structure recommended under National Incident Management System (NIMS) [Figure 2]. Agencies and departments from across state government are assigned to lead Sections and Branches within the organizational structure and have specific responsibilities for management of goals and objectives. [See OOCC Concept of Operations]. The emergency management system, as a neutral coordinating body, serves as the overall support with responsibility for the management of OOCC activities and tasks, with the Maryland Emergency Management Agency as lead. The Planning Section has primary responsibility for translating the recommendations from the Heroin & Opioid Emergency Task Force into objectives and operational tasks to be measured and tracked by the OOCC. The Task Force recommendations, in addition to data from state and local implementation programs, drive the development of operational objectives and tasks. The Operations Section is responsible for ensuring the coordination and collaboration of state agencies and departments. The Operations Section is made up of five distinct branches which are organized based on common functional areas to serve as the main coordinating mechanism of the Center’s operation. Branches bring together the capabilities of multiple state departments and agencies to support achievement of operational goals and objectives.

Figure 2 – Opioid Operational Command Center Organizational Structure