More drug overdoses in public places

Posted: 8:27 AM, Sep 16, 2016
Updated: 2016-09-16 08:27:47-04

The Lansing Fire Department is responding to more and more heroin overdoses, and people aren't just ODing in their homes.

"People are ducking into public bathrooms, wherever they might be buying heroin, they're looking for the closest place where they can get some privacy to get their high," LFD Captain Teresa Robinson said. "They're not waiting until they get home."

One first responder says he's even seen people passed out in running cars with their foot on the brake. Robinson, who is a Chief of Training and EMS Coordinator for Lansing Fire, says the trend is dangerous to the public in many ways.

"Think about if you have somebody that shoots up and overdoses in a public bathroom, and you have someone with a small child walk in after that," Robinson said. "What if that needle's on the ground, and the small child picks up that needle?"

Even the drugs people are using are changing. Narcan is the drug first responders use to reverse an overdose, and Robinson says now they have to use more and more of it to revive people. "There's new stuff hitting the streets all the time, and it seems to be more dangerous and more powerful," she warned.

This year, the Lansing Fire Department alone has used Narcan 179 times. Last year, it used Narcan 295 times. "Narcan is not the answer, the only thing Narcan does is buy time to try to save that person's life," Robinson said. "To try to point them in the direction of treatment to get them real help."

The Health Department, Fire and EMS, police departments, and other have formed an Ingham County Task Force to address the problem. Robinson says the first step is spreading awareness about how to prevent heroin addiction, and that usually means controlling prescription pain killer use and abuse.

The Lansing Fire Department is also considering starting a pilot program that sends a small task force of people to the homes of people who have recently overdosed. The task force would explain the treatment options available and try to get help for people addicted to heroin.