WLNS – 6 News continues its special series looking at the community crisis caused by heroin and opioid abuse.
We’ve told you about those who fall victim to addiction, but now we’re diving into the realities of overdoses and the reality is, overdoses can happen anywhere, at any time.
This trend has prompted local businesses to get its employees educated on what to do if it happens in their area.
Tense moments like an officer rushing to give an overdose victim a dose of Narcan, has become a grim reality for local police in our area.
Almost daily, they’re responding to calls for opioid and heroin overdoses. Pedal to the metal, mentally preparing to deliver the life-saving narcotic reversal drug known as Narcan. Hoping to give someone a second chance at life..
“We’ve responded to residences literally multiple times in a day,” Jackson County Sheriff Steve Rand said.
But officials say, it used to be, that people would buy their drug of choice and shoot or snort up in the confines of their own home. Not anymore.
This surge in calls for overdoses is sending emergency responders to places you would never think a person would go to get high.
“Whether it’s a restaurant, a public building, a retail establishment, a street, car,” Lansing Fire Chief of Training, Teresa Robinson said.
It’s happening everywhere; in-between the bookshelves at libraries, even in the backseat of a patrol car.
6 News obtained body camera footage from the Eaton County Sheriff’s Office which shows a man, who officers say appeared to have taken crack and heroin, laying on the backseat of a cop-car as deputies work to bring him back from the edge of death.
“As soon as they get the heroin, wherever they’re close t, they’re going to inject it,” Ingham County Sheriff Scott Wriggelsworth said. “If there’s a Wendy’s close, Potter Park Zoo, if it’s under a bridge, we’ve found people in all different kinds of places all over the county.”
Robinson pulled some numbers so we can take a better look at the trends over the years and what she found is shocking.
In 2015, Lansing Fire officials responded to more than 240 overdose calls; 69 percent of those patients were in a home.
Just one year later in 2016, the percentage of people using in their homes dwindled, with more than 250 calls for overdoses, 35 percent of those patients being in a home.
But when you look at the data for this year in 2017, the numbers are overwhelming.
From Jan. 1 until now, there have been more than 108 calls for overdoses in the city. Only one of them was in someone’s home.
Robertson said that number, when compared to years past, speaks volumes to how powerful this epidemic really is.
“So now the craving is so extreme that as soon as they buy it, they’re just ducking into the closest place to be able to get that high,” she said. “They’re not waiting until they get home.”
The truth is, this growing trend has prompted law enforcement agencies in the Tri-County area to equip their deputies and officers with Narcan.
Many times, it’s the police who get to the scene first, just minutes before EMS.
“It is a life-saving drug that reverses the effects of opioids,” Eaton County Sheriff Tom Reich said.
“I’m kind of proud that we were the first in mid-Michigan to introduce Narcan to our deputies and since then many other departments across the Eaton County have Narcan,” Sheriff Reich said.
The Ingham County Sheriff’s Office has it, the Lansing Police Dept., and many others.
It’s become such a problem, that some local businesses have actually changed it’s training to educate its employees on what to do if they find someone whose overdosed.
“I’ve had businesses call me and say “hey can you come in and train some of our personnel..we’re not sure what we want to do.. We want to make sure our people know how to be safe,” Robinson said. “So, they are going to the bathroom and they are cleaning up and they come across a needle what should we do?”
And for those businesses in the Tri-County area and beyond who may find themselves making calls to 911 for overdoses all too often, perhaps you should consider this: “It’s phenomenal to train your employees because the last thing you want to is an employee who’s trying to do a good thing and end up getting struck by a dirty needle or not sure how to handle it or who they should call,” Robinson said.
For more information and resources, click here.