SPECIAL REPORT: Local Heroin Epidemic Putting Strain on Paramedics

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As the Ohio Valley’s heroin epidemic grows, paramedics responding to overdose situations find that the instances can quickly turn dangerous.    

Brooke County EMA Director Bob Fowler says the heroin problem is progressively getting worse in the area, and an incident on Wednesday in which a man allegedly attacked paramedics as they attempted to revive him form a drug overdose wasn’t the first time that something like that has happened. Fowler said they’ve had three incidents like that in the past six months and now, it’s happening more often.    

“We have probably 3 to 5 overdoses on average a week and probably average at least 1 or 2 deaths a week,” said Fowler.

Fowler adds that they’ve even had weekends where they’ve had 4 or 5 deaths, but that is a very rare case.

However, what isn’t rare, is incidents occurring like what happened to his paramedics on Wednesday, when Steubenville resident Scott Gill allegedly overdosed on heroin near the West Virginia side of the Market Street Bridge and when paramedics brought him out of unconsciousness using Narcan, Gill became violent and pushed and shoved his way past the paramedics to run away.

Fowler said that one of the problems they’ve been having is repeat drug abusers are calling 911 complaining about a headache or laceration, but when paramedics get there, that person has a needle in their arm and they’re unconscious. “It’s pretty difficult for the crew to back out and wait for law enforcement to get there that might be tied up on something else and then the patient wouldn’t survive,” said Fowler.

Paramedics use a drug called Narcan to reverse the activity of the drug and Fowler says it immediately dilutes the drug out of system to make it inactive.

Gill was in Steubenville Municipal Court on Thursday where he pleaded no contest to obstructing official business. He must now serve his time in jail in Jefferson County before he’s extradited to Brooke County where he’ll be facing battery charges.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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