The Woodlands Township board of directors during a Dec. 1 meeting agreed to join an opioid settlement, which could allow the township to have access to grant funding for training first responders.

During the meeting, Todd Stephens, The Woodlands intergovernmental relations manager, said the township does not qualify for direct settlement payments, but the grant funding could come from the Texas State Council.

“The goal is to bring as much money to the state as possible, and the state has been asking local political subdivisions to join the settlement agreement in order to maximize the funds available,” Stephens said.

Stephens noted other municipalities in the area that have joined include the cities of Conroe and Magnolia, so far. Other municipalities have until Jan. 2 to join.

Information from the Texas Attorney General’s office indicates that in 2020, drug overdose deaths increased by around 32% and were driven primarily by opioids. Stephens noted a report from The Woodlands Fire Department Chief Palmer Buck indicates Narcan, which is used to counteract opioid or overdose symptoms, was used 20 times since January 2020.

“In some of those cases, that is cardiac arrest where they are not sure if an opioid or overdose is part of the underlying problem,” Stephens said.

According to Stephens’ presentation, the total possible settlement for Texas could be up to $1.5 billion, which could be distributed over 18 years.

If The Woodlands receives grant funding in the future, Stephens said the township could use the money for education, wellness and support activities for first responders.

Gordy Bunch, chair of The Woodlands Township board of directors, said there is no downside to being included in the settlement.

The board of directors unanimously approved joining the settlement.