Overdoses on the rise in county

Published 10:17 am Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Budget cuts included EMS services

With the drug epidemic rapidly growing throughout the country, the trend is no different here at home in Lawrence County.

Lawrence County EMS director Buddy Fry addressed the commissioners at their Tuesday meeting with an EMS report, stating the number of drug overdoses the department handles continues to increase.

From Jan. 1, 2016-Jan. 23, 2016, Lawrence County EMS made 664 total runs. In that same time period this year, EMS made 794 runs.

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“The overall trend is up for our EMS runs this year from last year,” Fry said. “But drug overdoses are a large part of the number of runs that our crews make. We aren’t seeing any more car accidents.”

Fry said that, just before Christmas last month, there was a large spike in drug overdoses throughout the county, which hasn’t decreased since.

Lawrence County Prosecutor Brigham Anderson said that in the last 45 days, from Dec. 15 through Tuesday, the county has seen 53 drug overdoses, seven of which were fatal.

Part of the budget cuts in this year’s budget included Lawrence County EMS, which saw a decrease of about $175,000, bringing its budget to $925,100 rather than the $1.1 million it had in 2016. With a growing number of overdoses the county EMS handles, expenses increase as well.

Fry said each dose of Narcan, used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, costs about $30, EKG pads, used to deliver a shock to people in cardiac arrest, cost about $50-$60 each, and I.O. needles, which inject Narcan into a lower leg bone if a person is unable to take it nasally or through an IV, cost about $110 each.

On Monday night, Lawrence County EMS made five runs, with two being overdose responses, bringing the county’s total EMS runs to 799 as of Tuesday.