Number of Fentanyl deaths climbing in Middle Tennessee

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Fentanyl deaths are becoming more widespread.  

According to the Metro Health Department, the number of deaths associated with Fentanyl has skyrocketed 190-percent from 60 deaths in 2016 to 174 deaths in 2018. And there are already 15 deaths attributed to Fentanyl in the first three months of 2019.  

Brian Todd at the Metro Public Health Department says though many people died from a combination of drugs, Fentanyl is the common denominator. 

“All of these involved Fentanyl, but many involved multiple drugs, so the cause of death was often acute combined drug toxicity.” 

While 190-percent is an astronomical increase, Cheatham County saw a spike in Fentanyl deaths, too. 

According to EMS director Danny Schaeffer, in 2016, two people died from Fentanyl-related deaths. In 2018, 10 people died. That’s a 400-percent increase. 

“Alarming stats. And nothing to be proud of for sure.”  

Schaeffer says a 17-year-old girl was found Tuesday, overdosed on an injectable opioid. First responders revived the teen with Narcan. He says the young girl could easily have died 

“We’ve had three confirmed deaths this year off of Fentanyl.”  

While three people have died so far this year, Schaeffer says they are awaiting toxicology results on other overdose deaths that could change the number of Fentanyl-related deaths. 

“If a patient still has a needle stuck in their arm, chances are it is Fentanyl because we know how deadly it is,” said Schaeffer. 

Fentanyl deaths dipped in 2017, going from two deaths in 2016 to zero deaths in 2017, according to Schaeffer. 

“In 16, starting to see the OD deaths and it probably scared some folks, so in 2017, we had some ODs, we didn’t have as many deaths.” 

Schaeffer also credits first responders carrying and using Narcan, which quickly and effectively counteracts the effects of an opioid-related overdose. 

The 2017 numbers only lasted a year. Schaeffer says Fentanyl deaths jumped from zero in 2017 to 10 deaths in 2018, an increase of more than 900-percent. 

“We continue to respond to the overdose calls and support programs for people who are addicts of prescription medications and street drugs. Yes. these numbers are actual people and it’s hard for us to keep going to people’s families and telling them their loved ones are dead because they overdosed.” 

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