Overdose calls on the rise locally

By Tom Barr - tbarr@wnewsj.com

WILMINGTON — City police and EMS were dispatched to a reported drug overdose at 12:10 p.m. Wednesday in what has become an all-too-common occurrence.

A rash of overdoses has taken place in and around Wilmington recently, especially on Tuesday.

The Clinton County Health District received an alert late Tuesday afternoon of a “Suspected Drug Overdose Anomaly in Clinton County” over a 24-hour period from Epicenter, a state database that monitors hospital ER visits.

Clinton County Health Commissioner Pamela Walker-Bauer said local EMS on Tuesday requested additional Narcan (naloxone), a medication that rapidly reverses opioid overdoses.

“We did have several overdoses in the last few days,” said Wilmington Fire Chief Andy Mason on Wednesday. “We’re very fortunate the health department helps us out by supplying us with Narcan when they can” in addition to what the pharmacy the WFD uses can supply.

Wilmington Police Chief Ron Cravens confirmed to the News Journal Wednesday that there has been an uptick in overdoses and suspicious activity in the past few days, including one fatality for which they’re awaiting the coroner’s report to confirm that drugs were a factor.

He told the News Journal on Wednesday morning that — within the city — recent overdose calls included:

• Sunday — Two calls; 6:35 a.m. and 7:10 p.m.

• Monday — One call; 5:48 p.m.

• Tuesday — Four calls; 11:21 a.m., 11:33 a.m., 1:51 p.m. and 5:02 p.m.

“We’re actively trying to find traffickers but it’s every day we’re dealing with it,” said Cravens.

He added that historical trends show that illegal drug use can increase during the holiday season, possibly due to a combination of depression and self-medicating to overcome it.

Colonel Brian Prickett, who is the chief deputy with the Clinton County Sheriff’s Department, said Wednesday there was an overdose about 12:25 p.m. Tuesday in Port William. The patient was a 34-year-old man.

Port William EMS went to the scene and transported the man to the hospital.

The Port William EMS did administer Narcan to the man, reported Prickett.

Asked about the Clinton County Sheriff’s Office policy regarding deputies carrying Narcan, the chief deputy said the sheriff’s department has never carried Narcan.

Different law enforcement agencies have different philosophies regarding Narcan, he said.

The decision here was made because most of the time the life squad is getting to the scene about the same time as the sheriff’s office, Prickett said.

“They’re trained to do that. We’ll defer to them to provide medical care in those circumstances,” said Prickett.

The Clinton County Sheriff’s Office does have Narcan on hand at the county jail, he said. He recalls Narcan being used twice at the jail a couple years ago.

Clinton Memorial Hospital reported three overdoses at around the same time Tuesday and more in the following hours.

“What concerned us the most yesterday [Tuesday] was not only seeing more than double the number of narcotic overdose patients in five hours as we typically treat in 24 hours, but also the large dose of the reversal agent naloxone that these patients required to save their lives,” said Matt Gunderman, CMH Senior Director of Emergency, Cardiac, IR & Radiology Services.

“Thankfully with the quick response of EMS and their ability to administer naloxone in the field, and the additional naloxone available in the ED at CMH, none of these people lost their lives yesterday,” Gunderman added.


By Tom Barr