NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Middle Tennessee is in the middle of an opioid crisis.
Overdoses and deaths are skyrocketing due to illicit drugs like heroin spiked with lethal fentanyl.
The crews on the front lines are experiencing it first hand.
Nashville Fire Department first responders have been busier this year than last when it comes to administering Narcan to overdose patients.
Trevor Henderson, the Opioid Overdose Coordinator with the Metro Health Department says, “it is certainly a crisis, and yes it is an epidemic.”
According to the Nashville Fire Department, already, in the first 10 months of this year, rescue crews have given Narcan to overdose patients 1,862 times.
Last year, in 2018, 1,777 people got Narcan.
That’s an increase of 85 patients. And there’s still two months to go in 2019.
Henderson says, “From my perspective, it is not surprising in that we are watching death numbers rise and ed od numbers going up so we would have expected to see this and it is also a testament to the good work of the f.d. that they are getting this out there and saving lives.”
Based on the fire department’s numbers, last year – on average – Narcan was issued 148 times a month.
This year that number has increased to 186 times per month.
Henderson says, “You look toward the middle of 2018, you can see prescribed opioids becoming less a driver of this crisis and you begin to see illicit opioids like heroin and fentanyl becoming more of an issue.”
Metro health experts tell News 2 not only are Narcan numbers rising, so too are fatalities related to overdoses.
Henderson says, “Certainly on deaths, we are 62% of our deaths involve fentanyl, where I believe it was 53% last year. It makes everything more complicated and dangerous for the users on the street. So finding out where this comes from what it’s going into, what it is being mixed with, it puts users at much more risk and complicates treatment.”
According to the Metro Health Department for the first 6 months of 2019, the last numbers available, there have been 207 overdose deaths in metro.
Metro police, who also carry Narcan and save lives said in 2018
11 patients were given Narcan.
Through November 7, 2019, that number is 56.