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Published on February 23, 2024
Cambridge CARE Team Takes Charge of Public Needle Pickups to Boost Emergency Services EfficiencySource: City of Cambridge Official Website

Cambridge Community Safety Department's CARE Team steps up to tackle needle pickups in public spaces, a move that promises to refocus emergency services on more pressing emergencies. The newly formed CARE Team has hit the ground running this week, ready to deal with the first of many call types, including needle pickups in common areas like streets and parks.

Locals who spot needles or syringes no longer have to hesitate on what to do – they've got the option to call the non-emergency number, 617-349-3300, provided by the city's Emergency Communications Center and if the situation seems dicey, with immediate danger lurking, 911 is the way to go, where it was outlined on their website. Community Safety, Fire, or EMS personnel will swoop in to safely handle the hazardous items, whether it's day or night with responders ready around the clock.

Anonymity isn't an issue for tipsters, as they can shoot a text to Tip411 with "Tip650" at the start of their message for confidentiality and those who prefer the written word can send an anonymous email tip through the Cambridge Police Department's site. Liz Speakman, Director of the Community Safety Department, expressed excitement over the CARE Team's deployment.“We are thrilled to have our CARE Team members responding to select call types,” she said, “After many months of training and community outreach, they are eager to make a difference in the community.”

Acting Chief Thomas Cahill of Cambridge Fire Department also weighed in on the positive impact of the CARE Team's intervention, he commented on how the fire department and EMS can now prioritize critical emergencies over this kind of routine hazards, Cambridge has welcomed the shift, the CARE Team's 12-week, 360-hour intensive program honed skills from conflict mediation to CPR before taking to the streets for hands-on practice.

The fire department alone raced to nearly 350 incidents in 2023 and CFD Deputy Chief Matthew Wood didn't hold back on training the newcomers, equipping them with everything from sharps containers to protective gear. The Team making rounds to libraries, YWCA, and other community hubs, residents curious about the February update or next steps can head to or get the scoop straight to their inbox by signing up for the CARE Team's monthly newsletter.