Heroin Overdoses Becoming an Epidemic in Charleston

Captain Mark Strickland and his crews have worked an overdose every day since Sunday. In the last year, they

MGN Online

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- It's an image Frank Chapman has never seen before.

"He was wrapping his arm up and shot up what it was," said Chapman.

In his years of living in South Hills, Chapman never guessed heroin was on his streets.

However, what surprised him, doesn't surprise paramedics.

"There's no social, economic, racial, religious; there's no divide in this," said Captain Mark Stickland, a paramedic with the Charleston Fire Department.

Captain Strickland and his crews have worked an overdose every day since Sunday.

In the last year, they've responded to well over 100 calls in every part of town.

The cheap, available drug has replaced pills as the go-to for addicts, and it's changed the game for emergency responders when a cardiac arrest call comes in.

"Law enforcement and medics both get dispatched and respond," said Lt. John Garten with the Charleston Police Department.

When paramedics use their miracle drug, nicknamed Narcan, unresponsive patients immediately snap awake. Many times, they're confused, scared, and ready to fight.

However, Strickland warns the real danger is having to use so many resources to combat an addiction.

"The patient down the street having a heart attack, it's not his fault that your closest fire engine with EMT and paramedics on it is tied up on an overdose because someone wanted to shoot up," said Captain Strickland.

While police are tracking the drugs origins coming into the city, they say there's one big factor that will stop it from spreading..

"It's education," said Lt. Garten. "First we have to educate."


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