HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — Coinciding with the recent seizure of 11 pounds of Fentanyl in Madison County, first responders said drug overdoses are on the rise.
Between January 1st and July 31st of 2022, HEMSI spokesperson, Don Webster, said they responded to 529 overdose calls. He said, “if you do the math, that’s 2.5 a day, 18 a week, 75 a month, that’s what we’re responding to.”
This isn’t a surprise, as back in July, Madison County Coroner and the Partnership for a Drug-Free Community alerted the community to a “bad batch” of drugs, that led to at least 6 overdose deaths in a 48-hour period.
Webster said the increase in overdoses, and calls for overdoses, is taking a toll on everyone.
“These overdoses are taxing our healthcare system,” he said. “They tax not only HEMSI, they tax our first responders, Huntsville Fire & Rescue, Madison Fire & Rescue, it taxes them, but it also taxes the hospitals.”
Webster emphasized when a person overdoses and medical attention is needed, it isn’t as simple as administering a dose of Naloxone at the scene.
“That patient is transported to the hospitals, Huntsville [Hospital], Crestwood [Medical Center], they are probably going to be there 8,12, 24 hours if not admitted,” he said. “You can’t just walk off after you’ve been administered Naloxone or Narcan.”
News 19 reached out to Huntsville Hospital and Crestwood Medical Center for additional statistics and comments regarding the number of overdose patients they’ve admitted. At this time, News 19 has not heard back from either.
In addition to HEMSI and local hospitals, Huntsville Fire & Rescue is feeling the increase in overdose calls as well.
“For our overdose calls, we ran 115 since the first of June,” said HFR Chief, Howard McFarlen.
Chief McFarlen said he can tell when there’s a bad batch of drugs going around, just by the number of overdose calls.
“When it hits you can actually tell,” the Chief said. “I’ve actually listened to the radio when I’ve got a truck out working an overdose, and while they’re still working it, I hear another fire engine dispatched to another overdose in another part of the city.”
Both Webster and Chief McFarlen said they hope a recent string of drug seizures by the North Alabama Drug Task Force (NADTF) will help put a stop to the number of overdoses.
“Taking these drugs off the street actually saves lives,” Webster said.
During a press conference last week, Sergeant Joe Kennington with the NADTF spoke on the importance of the recent Fentanyl seizure. Saying the task force potentially saved “thousands” of lives by getting the Fentanyl and other drugs off the streets.
During the same press conference, Huntsville Police said since January there have been 40 fatal drug overdoses in Madison County.
Drug investigators remind people not to do any illegal drugs, especially in light of the fact they recently seized Marijuana and Cocaine that was laced with Fentanyl. Even just small amounts of Fentanyl can be dangerous, if not deadly.