Gov. Henry McMaster declares the opioid crisis a statewide public health emergency on Monday, Dec. 18, 2017, at the State Emergency Management Division in Columbia. File/Provided

A state plan released Wednesday proposes for the first time a number of ways to seal the gaps in the web of services opioid users might currently fall through.

The "Opioid Emergency Response Plan" was the result of work by the Opioid Emergency Response Team, which was created by Gov. Henry McMaster in December when he first declared the problem a public health emergency. 

"There's a silent hurricane going, and it's getting worse," McMaster said at the time.

The team met monthly for the following six months. The result is a plan that marks the first of its kind in this state to formalize the effort to prevent opioid overdoses, which claimed 616 lives in 2016.

Organizations involved include a number of state agencies and health authorities, ranging from the Department of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services to BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina.

The recommendations are wide-ranging. 

There are four sections: The first on physician and public education, the second on prevention and response, the third on treatment and recovery, and the final on law enforcement approaches. The health insurer, for example, is supposed to share some of their data. 

The Medical University of South Carolina should work on increasing the availability of treatment in emergency departments across the state. The Department of Education should be training its staff on how to use naloxone, a drug that reverses opioid overdoses. And tens more recommendations are listed.

McMaster also indicated that the plan could be revised if need be.

"This plan is a living, breathing document that we will add to and amend as we encounter new issues and achieve successes," he said in a statement. 

Though it tackles a much different issue, a release from the governor's office said this plan is not unlike other emergency plans developed by the S.C. Emergency Management Division.

The news also came with a note about new data from the state's drug agency, which is now sharing county-level information about the crisis, including the number of overdose deaths per year and the amount of prescriptions dispensed. 

Reach Mary Katherine Wildeman at 843-937-5594. Follow her on Twitter @mkwildeman.