- Michael Cooper Staff Writer
Clark County saw 20 drug overdoses during a 25-hour stretch on Friday and Saturday, on the heels of 19 ODs a day earlier.
The second rash of overdoses came between 5 a.m. Friday and 6 a.m. Saturday, according to Anita Biles, spokeswoman for the Clark County Combined Health District. The Ohio Department of Health alerted the health district to the outbreak over the weekend.
There were no alerts the remainder of the weekend, Biles said. It’s unclear if any deaths were reported, she said.
The overdoses came after a similar increase in which Springfield police responded to 19 overdoses in 25 hours between Thursday and Friday morning.
Springfield Regional Medical Center has had at least 480 drug-related cases so far this year, Community Mercy Health Partners Spokesman Dave Lamb said last week.
As of Friday, the Springfield Police Division has responded to 368 drug overdoses so far in 2017, surpassing the 361 in all of last year.
Of the 110 total deaths investigated by the Clark County Coroner’s Office this year, Biles said 54 are suspected accidental drug deaths.
As of Feb. 11, 23 drug deaths have been confirmed. The remainder are awaiting toxicology reports, she said.
“We’re on track to be well over 100,” Biles said.
Last year, a record 79 accidental drug deaths occurred in Clark County, up from 73 in 2015.
Local health officials believe illicit fentanyl to be the main drug causing the overdoses, Biles said, but it won’t be clear until toxicology reports come back in six to seven weeks.
Clark County law enforcement is working overtime to identify drug dealers, she said.
The Clark County Prosecutor’s Office has also established rules for local residents as part of the state’s 9-1-1 Good Samaritan Law, which provides immunity to people seeking medical assistance for a drug overdose, allowing them to report or seek help without charges.
Now law enforcement agencies will hand out a card to people who overdose outlining the Good Samaritan law — including a formal request that they must seek help within 30 days, Clark county Prosecutor Andy Wilson said. If they don’t seek treatment, the prosecutor’s office will pursue drug possession charges.
“They are putting small pieces into place so we can make a dent in this, but we need more money for treatment and that kind of stuff,” Biles said.
Agencies in Clark County — including first responders, public health, mental health and addiction services — have been communicating really well to hear each others’ needs, she said.
“The key is trying to get people who come into the ER to stay,” Biles said, “and then get them an assessment and get them into treatment. On a weekend, it’s harder to do that.”
SPRINGFIELD’S OPIOID WAR