5 overnight overdoses in Madison County; EMS calls it a normal d - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

5 overnight overdoses in Madison County; EMS calls it a normal day

HEMSI chief operating officer Don Webster (Source: WAFF) HEMSI chief operating officer Don Webster (Source: WAFF)

There were five reported opioid overdoses in Madison County early Thursday. Three overdosed in the parking lot at Carson’s Grill on Old Highway 431. Don Webster, HEMSI’s chief operating officer, said there could be one more person who left before officials arrived on scene.

Additionally, two others overdosed.at a different scene.

Webster admitted five overdoses overnight is a unique situation but said it’s certainly not surprising.

"I want to assure you this is an everyday occurrence in Huntsville and Madison County,” Webster said. “This is not an unusual day for us."

And the numbers prove it. HEMSI has responded to more than 306 opioid overdose calls since the beginning of 2017 alone. Of those 306 calls, HEMSI has treated 15 patients twice or more for overdoses.

"I don't know what the answer is, but something's got to be done. It just can't continue like this," Webster said.

And authorities are working to ensure it doesn’t continue at this rate.

STAC is a drug task force between Huntsville police, Decatur police, Madison and Morgan County sheriff's departments, the Madison County district attorney's office and the FBI. Since Jan. 1, 2017, the team has seized 2,242 opioid pills and more than 341 grams of heroin.

As impressive as that sounds, as of this week, the Madison County coroner's office reports a more harrowing number: They estimate 37 people have died from drug overdoses so far in 2017.

"It affects law enforcement. It affects the health care system, the EMS system. It affects the funeral homes. Just look at the impact,” Webster said. “Addiction is a terrible thing and we've got to fix it."

Webster said because the demand is going up, the cost of NARCAN is too. NARCAN is a drug EMS professionals use on patients to reverse the effects of an overdose. He isn’t sure what the long-term implications are when it comes to a high demand of NARCAN. He just knows it’s becoming more and more expensive to purchase it.

Webster notes that’s not the only thing to consider when it comes to money, though. Many patients who overdose will require costly ambulance rides, medical attention in the hospital, etc. Webster said that’s an expense that some addicts aren’t prepared to pay for, in turn, putting taxpayers on the hook.

“The problem is this is getting bigger and bigger. This problem is escalating. And it’s to the point that, in our opinion, it’s a public health crisis,” Webster said.

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