Fire EMS, Firefighter Training, Firefighting

Ohio Firefighters Battling Heroin Epidemic

Responding to overdose calls is part of the job for first responders–but they say it’s also impacting the services they provide, reports wkbn.com.

At Ohio’s fire training academy in Reyonldsburg Monday, Akron Firefighters Association Local 330 President Russ Brode said heroin isn’t a new epidemic–it’s been going on for years. Brode said Akron firefighters go on six to ten heroin overdose calls everyday.

As of Tuesday, 131 days into 2015, Lane EMS has been on 123 drug overdose calls on the year for its service area.

Officials with Lane couldn’t confirm if all of those calls were for heroin. It did research the ages for the calls. Randall Pugh with Lane said that the calls included people as young as 14 and as old as 82.

First Responders in Akron and Cincinnati say they’re going on multiple heroin overdose calls every day.

“My area that i have is through a major thoroughfare, where we see a lot of people who can’t wait to get to their home to take their heroin,”Doug Stern with the Ohio Association of Professional Firefighters said. “They’re stopping at drug store bathrooms, gas station bathrooms, restaurant bathrooms, in the parking lots.”

Responding to heroin overdoses is part of the job, but Stern says when crews are on that call, it takes an ambulance out of service.

“Someone has a heart attack in that area, that ambulance isn’t there to service them any longer,” said Stern, who works in the Cincinnati area.

Firefighters say educating people about how destructive heroin is is key. Ohio Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor says it’s an effort everyone needs to be involved in.

Taylor said Ohio is making some progress in fighting the heroin problem, but there’s a lot more to do.

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