Opioid overdoses tying up medical resources - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Opioid overdoses tying up medical resources

(Source: WAFF) (Source: WAFF)

As sad as it is, part of the issue when it comes to the nation’s opioid epidemic is all of the medical resources the overdoses are tying up. That means everyone from emergency medical technicians to emergency room doctors.

Dr. Sherrie Squyres, HEMSI medical director at Huntsville Hospital, said the cost is high.

"I mean the resources that are having to be devoted to this are just astounding. And the cost - to society, to everyone, all of us - is horrible," Squyres said.

READ MORE: HEMSI has responded to more than 300 opioid overdoses this year

Opioid overdoses are rampant in north Alabama. And in Squyres' career, she says she's never seen as many overdoses  as she does today.

"This epidemic is truly an epidemic. It’s a public health crisis,” she said. “Nationally, the statistics vary from 80 to 90 people a day because of this. OD deaths are just astounding."

The coroner's office told WAFF 48 News someone dies from an opioid overdose every five days in Madison County, and that number is on the rise.

Squyres said when the emergency room gets patients that are unresponsive from opioid overdoses, doctors give them a drug called Narcan. If the patient is newly unresponsive, they'll wake up at that point. But Squyres said it's not always pleasant.

“They're often really mean and combative and difficult to deal with. They’re in acute narcotic withdrawal. Most of the staff has been swung at, kicked, cursed at. They're not pleasant to be with at that point. They're in pain and they're miserable,” she said.

Squyres said she's treated countless overdosed patients in Huntsville, so many, it's even touched her own life.

"I’ve cared for people I know who have come in and their child has overdosed. This is for all walks of life. This is not for poor, rural. This is all socioeconomic levels. All education levels are affected by this. This is just permeating the community," she said.

READ MORE: Huntsville nonprofit aims to fight against opioid crisis

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