Epidemic Overdoses Stretch Ohio First Responders

Springfield, OH – Public safety forces in Springfield are feeling the strain after responding to at least 130 drug overdose calls last month, which local leaders said has stretched resources and affecting first responders physically and emotionally.

The Springfield Fire/Rescue Division administered in January 250 doses of nasal Naloxone, the drug commonly referred to by its brand name Narcan, which reverses an opioid overdose. Springfield medics had never given more than 100 doses of Narcan before last December.

Between Jan. 27 and Jan. 30, the division responded to 36 overdoses and used 48 doses of Narcan.

According to Springfield Police Chief Steve Moody, nearly a third of the calls the Springfield Police Division responded to last year involved overdoses. Last year the division’s overall calls for service increased by 7 percent.

There have been 18 suspected drug overdose deaths since Jan. 1, Clark County Coroner Dr. Richard Marsh said, but he’s still awaiting toxicology reports to confirm those. The majority of drug deaths in Clark County last year involved multiple drugs, including illicit synthetic fentanyl — 50 times more powerful than heroin. It is available by prescription, but evidence indicates that illicitly-made fentanyl is more likely a powder mixed with heroin and or sold as heroin.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the U.S. is experiencing an epidemic of drug overdose (poisoning) deaths. Since 2000, the rate of deaths from drug overdoses has increased 137%, including a 200% increase in the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids (opioid pain relievers and heroin). CDC analyzed recent multiple cause-of-death mortality data to examine current trends and characteristics of drug overdose deaths, including the types of opioids associated with drug overdose deaths.

During 2014, a total of 47,055 drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States, representing a 1-year increase of 6.5%, from 13.8 per 100,000 persons in 2013 to 14.7 per 100,000 persons in 2014.

According to a study by the CDC, advanced EMS staff were more likely than basic EMS staff to administer naloxone.  A majority of states have adopted national guidelines that prohibit basic EMS staff from administering the drug as an injection.

As of 2014, only 12 states allowed basic EMS staff to administer naloxone for a suspected opioid overdose; all 50 states allow advanced EMS staff to administer the overdose reversal treatment.