Manchester, NH – First responders have revived at least 42 overdose victims in the city over the past week, signaling that a stronger drug has hit the streets.
According to the Manchester Fire Department, there have been a total of 535 overdoses/calls for service in 2017.
Overdose deaths in the U.S. have tripled since 2000, with 52,404 deaths in 2015 as the highest ever recorded. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has yet to release official statistics for 2016, early estimates put the number of deaths at as many as 65,000.
Chris Hickey, EMS officer at the Manchester Fire Department, said the “disastrous” spike in overdoses began around 3 p.m. last Saturday and still had not let up by Friday afternoon.
Just a week earlier, Hickey had been cautiously optimistic when the number of overdoses in the city stood at 28 for August, a significant drop from earlier months. Then, he said, “Something hit the streets that hit the users hard.”
As of Friday afternoon, the city has seen 71 overdoses, two of them fatal, in the month of August alone. That compares with 74 overdoses, two fatal, in July, and 48, including eight fatalities, in August of 2016.
The total number of overdose calls in the city for 2017 stands at 536 as of Friday; there have been 42 fatalities, according to fire department statistics.
Hickey said he doesn’t believe the past week’s spike indicates a return of the deadly synthetic opioid carfentanil since first responders are not needing to use higher doses of Narcan, the overdose reversal drug, to revive victims.
Last year, Manchester Fire Department created Safe Station, an innovative program to address the epidemic that has since been replicated in other communities. Those battling addiction — now called “substance use disorder” — can walk into any fire station and get help in finding treatment and recovery services.