BELL COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ/WYMT) -- Playing at the park should be a safe environment for kids to run around, get out some energy, and just be kids. But for a mom in Bell County, Kentucky, she’ll be taking extra precautions before letting her kids play outside.
Ashley Collins says her two boys were outside playing around a tree when her 5-year-old son, Jeremiah, came to her and said he had given himself a shot and showed her the used needle.
"I was shocked,” Collins tells WYMT. “It amazed me how bad this world is really getting. If this had never happened, I would've never thought, 'I'm going to have to teach my kids, hey you're going to have to look for a needle on the ground. You can't go outside and play until mommy checks the area.' ”
In Huntington, parents were shocked to hear about the story and admit it was never a concern that had crossed their minds.
“I would never in a million years have thought to check at a park for where my kids are playing for needles or anything like that,” Amy Johnson said. “It’s one of those things you think would never happen to you or that your kids would stumble upon. My first thought as a parent are falling or tripping or getting lost or running away, so this is definitely something else to add to my plate I guess.”
City officials are aware that with the drug and heroin epidemic in our region, there’s a good chance children and parents may come across a used needle on the ground.
Deputy Cabell County EMS Director Steve Murray says, if at all costs, avoid touching the needle or whatever drug paraphernalia you come across.
“If you see it, first off don't touch it,” Murray tells WSAZ. “If at all possible stay away from it, call 911. 911 will send someone out to pick up that item, that needle whether it's capped or not capped. We just don't want you to touch it. If your child has inadvertently picked it up and brought it to you, we want you to isolate it. And by isolating it, we want somewhere that's gonna be less accessible for puncture.”
To isolate the needle, Murray suggests putting the needle in a water or soda bottle. That way there is an extra layer of protection should the cap be off the needle.
Murray says the first thing you should do if your child is punctured by the needle is to clean the wound and get medical attention.
“If for some reason your kid actually gets stuck by a needle, the first thing we want you to do is wash the area. We want you to contact your primary care physician. By contacting them and taking the needle to them, sometimes we can do source testing from that needle and isolate any problems that may be there.”
Collins says her son will now have to spend the next year getting blood tests done checking for STDs or Hepatitis B and C.
Now, parents like Johnson will have to have to have a conversation about not just stranger danger and hot slides, but picking up items they’re not familiar with.
“Yeah, we'll be talking on the way home today about don't touch anything that's not yours that you didn't drop because I guess you never know now.”