Officials sound alarm following recent overdose deaths
Karrie Allen is reporting for Columbia-Greene Media reports of three, possibly four, fatal heroin overdoses have raised concerns that a new, lethal batch of the drug is now available in the region. Social media accounts reported five death in Greene County, and two in Columbia County last week. Officials were able to confirm a total of three deaths. Greene County Sheriff Greg Seeley reported a 34-year-old man in Palenville and 25-year-old Cairo man died Tue., Apr. 4, from apparent overdoses. Columbia County EMS Coordinator P.J. Keeler said emergency services was dispatched for four overdose patients in the last 10 days. He said the number of incidents "has truly escalated. There were hardly any calls a few years ago." Aimee Richards, director of the Mobile Crisis Assessment Team with the Mental Health Association of Columbia and Greene Counties, said within 48 hours of posting on Facebook about a "bad batch of heroin," she heard from at least 100 people. "Heroin has always been laced with another drug, but the potency is getting stronger and stronger," she said. Heroin has been known to be laced with fentanyl, but it is now also being laced with the drug W-18, known as elephant tranquilizer. That drug is 100 times more powerful than fentanyl, so it should be expected that the number of overdoses will increase, Dean Hale, director of Hope House in Albany said. Steve Brucato, chief of operations for Greene County EMS said the need for Narcan, the drug used for the emergency treatment of a known or suspected opioid overdose, is in increased demand. During the first quarter of 2017, county EMS administered 23 doses to 18 patients compared to 13 doses to nine patients in the first quarter of 2016, he said. Read the full story in The Daily Mail.