Sunday, November 20, 2016

South Florida in opioid overdose crisis

The man was in his late 30s, dressed in shorts, open shirt and barefoot. He was laying face down on the pavement outside the front door of Wal-Mart. He had been dumped out of a car and was not moving. His skin was a blue-gray. He looked dead.

Five available units from Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue Station 2 were on other calls, including two for suspected overdoses. A unit from another station was sent.

It's projected that by the end of this year more than 800 in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties will die of opioid overdose. South Florida, along with New England, New Jersey, Ohio and Southern Appalachia are epicenters in the US of Fentanyl and Carfentanil. "I have never seen it like this, ever" said Lt. Ozzy Tianga, a veteran Broward Sheriff's Office detective. "Nothing comes close"
Last week South Florida officials sounded an alarm about the drug crisis, repeating dire warnings from the DEA about the perils of fentanyl and carfentanil. Animals are not immune. In October three dogs with the Broward Sheriff's Office K-9 unit working a search in a suspected drug house became ill with overdose-like symptoms.
In Broward County deaths involving fentanyl have doubled. In Miami-Dade County they have tripled. Paramedics are running hard just to keep up, and spraying so much naloxone they are busting budgets. Paramedics get used to seeing repeat customers.

The man loaded into the ambulance in front of Wal-Mart was saved. It took three doses of Narcan. He did not blame paramedics for spoiling his high. He had a smile on his face. "Thanks for saving my life." A paramedic arriving on another truck recognized him: "He'll be back."