Local opioid crisis reaching all-time high, responders say

CARLISLE, Pa. (WHTM) – The opioid epidemic is reaching an all-time high in central Pennsylvania. It’s so bad, first responders are concerned they don’t have the resources to keep up.

First responders say it used to take one dose of Naloxone to revive a patient. Nowadays, it takes 4 or 5.

Nathan Harig gets the call when someone overdoses on opioids.

“It’s scary for first responders because a lot of the stuff that’s being mixed with heroin,” Harig said.

“The stuff either has Fentanyl or other stuff mixed in it,” paramedic Darryl Strick said.

With the drug stronger, it takes more naloxone to keep patients alive. It’s an issue they’re seeing more often.

“Normally, in a month we do 16 doses. In May of 2017, we did 43; incredibly high, very alarming,” Harig said.

The numbers for May are four times higher than what they were seeing in 2015, and it’s not cheap. Each dose of Naloxone costs $45. With numbers high, resources are low.

“We’ve got the baby boomers and the opioid crisis coming at the worst time, but there is also less people graduating to become EMT’s and paramedics, so there is less of us,” Harig said.

Fewer responders with less incentive.

“Our reimbursements have stagnated or shrunk, so we’re not being paid to do this job in a lot of cases,” Harig said.

But if they don’t do it, who will?

“The first thing I say when they come awake is where are your needles, because that’s the last thing I want, is some kid to get stuck with a dirty needle,” Strick said.

“If no one finds you or gets you help in time, you will be dead,” Harig said.

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