Elmira Police responded to the 500 block of West Gray Street just after 10 a.m. on Monday after receiving a report of an overdose. Officials said it was third overdose call they’ve received since Friday afternoon, two have been fatal.
“Our concern is the safety of the general public, whether they’re the users or family members, medical personnel, first responders,” Elmira Police Sergeant William Solt said. “Everyone is at risk when these substances are introduced into the area.”
Solt said officers have seen a sudden spike in overdose calls over the past month. The numbers speak for themselves: EPD responded to 39 overdose calls between Dec. 15 and April 15, 13 of which were fatal. Whereas within the last month officers have been called to 25 overdoses, 11 of them fatal.
One possible explanation? Solt said investigators believe fentanyl is now being used to cut a number of drugs, not just heroin.
“Some of the overdoses we have responded to there’s been crack cocaine paraphernalia located at the scene or people that have been revived with Narcan have said they've only smoked crack cocaine,” he said. “So this leads us to suspect that there's either fentanyl or some other type of opiate being laced with the crack cocaine, and possibly other substances that people may be smoking or ingesting.”
Solt also said marijuana could be laced with fentanyl. He said many people don't call for help because they don’t want to be arrested. However, the Good Samaritan Law protects callers from being charged.
“Our goal is to save lives at that point, we will collect the packaging, we will take care of the narcotics and dispose of them properly,” Solt said. “We just want people to be safe and we want to give them the medical help that they need as soon as possible."
By cleaning up the scene, you may be putting the investigators at a disadvantage.
“The packaging that we find that helps us possibly link different cases if we have similar packaging,” Solt said.
Elmira Police are in the process of getting certification to carry Narcan. Elmira Firefighters and EMS personnel are already able to administer the drug, which reverses the effects of opioids.
"Our Narcan that we will be getting, it will be obtained through a grant and it's I believe run through New York state." Solt said. "We'll be going through a third-party in obtaining the Narcan, and once we utilize a dose we can go back to that agency and replenish it for free I believe."
Solt said EPD has not discovered any evidence of "grey death" or carfentanyl in the City of Elmira Firefighters put out a public service announcement advising caution, as carfentanyl 100 times more potent than fentanyl and is reportedly able to be absorbed through the skin.
The 11 fatalities reported this month only represent the cases that EPD responded to. That number does not account for other police agencies or hospitals treating overdoses.
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