Heroin overdoses straining medical supplies

Posted at 6:40 PM, Mar 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-22 18:40:36-04

Paramedics responding to a call for a young seizure patient in the township said a rise in calls for heroin overdoses in Lake County left an ambulance without some critical supplies.

A Concord Township mother said paramedics did not have the nasal applicator to treat her 5-year-old daughter’s status seizure earlier this month. 

The applicator is also used for the overdose reversal drug Narcan, as well as a several other life-saving drugs. 

Concord Township Fire Chief Matt Sabo said that the strain on applicator supplies is not entirely because of overdoses, but that plays a big part. 

Since the incident, the department has picked up several additional nasal atomizers. 

“We’ve acquired extras so we don’t get put in that position, because we are seeing an increase in overdoses,” Sabo explained. 

The young girl was quickly transferred to a local hospital and received the appropriate drugs through an IV. 

Sabo said his department is not having any difficulty supplying the appropriate drugs to its emergency patients. But he said the rise in Narcan use partly underscores the heroin issue that his and other departments are facing. 

“Three days, a week later, we’re back picking them up again,” he said.  “Maybe they just don’t want help or maybe they’re not getting that help that they need.” 

He said there have been two overdoses in Concord Township this year and that’s already above average. 

“It’s not promising for the rest of this year,” he explained. “But we hope with some collaboration with other partners in the community, we might be able to get ahead of it and look at other programs in the state of Ohio that are working.”

Concord Township Fire partnered with the Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board (ADAMHS) of Lake County at the beginning of this year. 

Sabo said he hopes to find a way for his EMS to support the addiction services effort long after patients are transferred to the hospital. 

Sabo said the ADAMHS Board’s Compass Lineis free and a confidential resource for residents fighting addiction.

The Lake County Coroner's Office told that 19 people died from heroin overdoses in 2015. Two people died from heroin overdoses in January, the most recent month with data available.