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Overdose Mayhem: Austin Grapples With Drug Crisis!

Nine people died in Austin’s deadliest overdose outbreak in years, with a total of 75 people affected in less than a week.

Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services said it responded to 75 opioid overdose cases from Monday through Wednesday, while it typically receives two or three calls for overdose emergencies a day. Of those 75 overdoses, nine were fatal.

EMS Division Chief Angela Carr said they responded to 37 overdoses on Monday, 27 on Tuesday, and 7 on Wednesday.

According to the Austin American-Statesman, preliminary toxicology reports on the deceased indicate the presence of fentanyl in all cases, cocaine in eight and methamphetamine in three.

“It is apparent there is a deadly batch of illicit narcotics in our community,” APD Assistant Chief Eric Fitzgerald said.

The outbreak began in downtown Austin and the Riverside Drive area. Later spreading to far South Austin and far East Austin.

Paramedics and community partners began distributing Narcan, a medication used to reduce the effects of opioids.

“Unquestionably it is helping,” said ATCEMS spokesperson Captain Christa Stedman. “We have seen in just a number of days the numbers dramatically decline. That is a great thing and I think it speaks to the incredible work that our community health paramedic team and our partners have done in essentially flooding the city with Narcan. It is so easy to use, you don’t hardly need any training.”

Police said they identified two individuals believed to be involved in the case and were arrested following the outbreak. One person has been charged with felon in possession of a firearm, and other charges are pending.

If an individual is found to be responsible for the manufacture, delivery, or distribution of fentanyl, they could be charged with murder.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics estimates that more than 112,000 people died from drug overdoses in the 12-month period ending in May 2023, a 2.5 percent increase from the previous period.

“The recent spike in fentanyl poisonings in Travis County serves as a stark reminder of the deadly nature of this substance,” Sheriff Mike Gleason of the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement. “We must all take proactive steps to protect ourselves and our loved ones.”

The statement also urged residents to “to remain vigilant and aware of the dangers posed by fentanyl.”

Written by RA News staff.


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