Another week, another municipality, another shocking story of a sudden wave of overdoses likely linked to fentanyl.
This time, it was Delta, where nine people overdosed in a 20 minute period.
But what’s it like on the front line dealing with such a horrific crisis? We spoke with one of the officers who responded to last night’s incident.
LISTEN: Staff Sargent Ryan Hall with the Delta Police talks about nine overdoses in 20 minutes
Staff Sargent Ryan Hall was the watch commander last night when the calls started coming in, and says it was a shock.
“It’s definitely one of the more intense moments in my 21 years of policing. It was a very interesting 20 minutes to try and make some decisions about how were were going to handle life and death situations.”
Hall says he’s amazed they were able to save all nine lives, and credits the hard work of paramedics, fire crews, and officers who had medical training.
He attended the first OD scene himself, and says he was steeling himself for a dead body and having to inform someone’s parents that they’d lost a child.
“It’s devastating to think of what the damage could be done, but in the moment we’re professionals. There’s always that saying that you rise to the occasion.”
He says crews were able to snap into their training at every scene, preventing a tragedy.
The incident is believed to have been sparked by a batch of apparent cocaine that turned out to have fentanyl in it. Hall says he observed white powder on a table at the scene he attended, which was seized and could now be tested.
He says the reaction of the victim when naloxone was deployed also indicates fentanyl was responsible.
“We’re talking about bunch of people between 19 and 25, who are still at the beginning of their lives…. still with a lot of aspirations of what they want to accomplish, and it was almost shut down on them.”
Hall, who’s worked in narcotics, says with the flood of synthetic opiods into the general drug supply, means more and more inexperienced drug users who are experimenting for the first time are getting slammed with high-grade narcotics… with predictable results.
And as for the people peddling the drugs?
Hall says if they’re caught it’s possible they could face additional charges, like criminal negligence causing bodily harm.
But he says while he certainly has no special sympathy for drug dealers, it’s important to look at them as real people – some of them needing help themselves – rather than a cartoon image of villain.
“Some people find themselves in situations where they’re doing this, and mostly because they’re addicted to it themselves. … we’re hoping those pepole, even though they’re deep into the drug culture, they can make some decisions too, they can come out of it as well.”