OCEAN CITY — In between two weighty and emotional presentations in the local community this week on the scourge of addiction, Governor Larry Hogan this week declared a state of emergency on the growing heroin and opioid crisis in Maryland and tapped a familiar face to lead the battle.
On Wednesday, Hogan signed an executive order declaring a state of emergency in response to the growing heroin, opioid and fentanyl crisis ravaging communities across Maryland including the Lower Shore and the resort area. The announcement came one day after another weighty presentation in Ocean City about the growing crisis and just hours before the Ocean City Police Department offered another presentation.
The governor’s executive order signed on Wednesday brings all of the state’s resources to bear against the heroin and opioid crisis and mobilizes increased and more rapid coordination of responses between state and local jurisdictions. Essentially, the administration is now responding to the heroin crisis in much the same way as it would any disaster threatening communities across Maryland including major storms and other natural and man-made disasters.
To that end, Hogan tapped a familiar face to lead the effort to address the scourge of heroin addiction and the alarming number of overdose deaths. When he declared a state of emergency on Wednesday, Hogan named former Ocean City Emergency Management Director Clay Stamp to take the lead and oversee the coordinated effort against the growing crisis.
Stamp became Ocean City’s first-ever emergency management director in 1984 and held the position until 2004. Stamp grew up in Ocean City before becoming an emergency medical technician and paramedic. In 1984, he was appointed by then Governor Harry Hughes to be Ocean City’s first emergency services director. Stamp helped shepherd the resort through countless storms and quickly gained critical acclaim for his deft handling of emergencies.
He was appointed director of the Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) during Hogan’s first year as governor and helped manage the administration’s response to the riots in Baltimore. He is currently Hogan’s senior advisor for emergency management and was tasked on Wednesday with taking the lead in the administration’s response to the growing heroin and opioid crisis.
“As an emergency management professional, it gives me great honor to have been chosen to lead such an important effort and to serve next to the many dedicated and highly capable people who are working to eliminate the impact this crisis is having on the people of Maryland,” Stamp said this week.
Stamp said during a press conference on Wednesday he would draw on his experiences of handling crises on the local level as he takes on the battle against heroin and opioid addiction.
“It is often said, and I believe, that all emergencies begin local, are managed local and they’re resolved local,” he said. “We, as state agents, have to use all the power that we have, leverage the resources of the enterprise of state government to start turning the tide here.”
In addition to appointing Stamp, Hogan authorized $50 million in new funding over a five-year period to support the state’s prevention, recovery and enforcement efforts. The governor said the funding will provide flexibility to public health and safety professionals at the state and local levels to begin to address the crisis, which he likened to any other major emergency facing the state.
“We need to treat this crisis the exact same way we would treat any other state emergency,” Hogan said. “With this continuing threat increasing at such an alarming rate, we must allow for rapid coordination with our state and local emergency teams. We must cut through the red tape so that we are empowering the important work being done in our many state agencies and at the local level all across our state. This is about taking an all-hands-on-deck approach so that together we can save the lives of thousands of Marylanders.”
The state of emergency declaration is a result of the initial findings of the Opioid Operational Command Center (OOCC) established by the Hogan administration in January to facilitate greater collaboration among state agencies, including health and human services, education, and public safety entities. The governor’s executive order delegates emergency powers to state and local emergency management officials, enabling them to fast-track coordination among state and local agencies and community organizations, including private sector and nonprofit entities to ensure whole-community involvement.
“The fact of the matter is that people all across Maryland and across our country are looking for answers when it comes to this heroin and opioid epidemic,” said Lieutenant Governor Boyd Rutherford. “Too many families know the devastation caused by this crisis and the death toll is climbing. Ultimately, this is about saving lives, and it will take all of us working together in a collaborative, holistic approach to achieve that.”