Clark Co. hospital, EMS resources stretched as overdoses spike again

4:13 p.m Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017 Community News
A Springfield Fire Division medic unit transports a patient to Springfield Regional Medical Center. Staff photo by Bill Lackey

Opioid overdoses continue to vex Clark County to the point that the health department has reached out to the state for more supplies of Naloxone — the overdose reversing drug commonly referred to by brand name Narcan.

From 2 p.m. Thursday to 11 p.m. Friday there were 19 overdose patients transported to local emergency rooms from Clark County, according to an alert from the Ohio Department of Health’s system that tracks drug-related ER visits. Three consecutive alerts were triggered because the number of overdose visits surpassed the average for each 12-hour period.

Springfield Regional Medical Center’s emergency department reported 50 drug overdose-related cases in the last 48 hours, according to spokesman Dave Lamb.

RELATED: Clark County drug overdoses double in 24-hour spike

The average in a day is usually around five or six, said Clark County Health Commissioner Charles Patterson. And ER visits make up just a portion of the total overdose incidents because some people refuse transport to the hospital after being revived by first responders, Patterson said.

At one point on Friday, every available Springfield Fire and Rescue Division ambulance was tied up, according to Captain Charles Alexander.

The department hasn’t gotten to the point where they weren’t able to respond to a call, he said, but if ambulances continue to be tied up with overdose calls, fire engines could begin to be dispatched for EMS runs.

“It’s very possible that people could see delayed response times,” Alexander said.

In the past couple days, the department’s emergency run volume has been about 10 to 15 percent above average.

This spike comes about a week after the county reported double the normal overdose-related ER visits in a 24-hour period from Jan. 17 to 18.

We are checking to see if there were any overdose deaths reported over the past 36 hours.

Patterson said the rash of overdoses seen in the past few weeks has been due to synthetic fentanyl. Users are taking drugs they believe to be heroin at a dosage they’ve previously taken, but are in fact taking fentanyl, a much stronger drug.

RELATED: Springfield partnership shows promise for heroin-addicted moms

Naloxone supplies in the county are starting to run low, and the state health department has promised to replenish the supply by Monday.

The health department’s alert said Springfield Regional Medical Center’s emergency department had run out of nasal Narcan and was using IV naloxone instead, but a spokesman for the hospital said the supply was low but not completely out.

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