A controversial proposal has been made in Middletown to deal with heroin overdoses.
Middletown is considering whether people with addiction should only be given two strikes before they’re out of chances at Narcan.
Middletown is struggling to deal with the heroin problem.
“We are faced with stress on our services, particularly the EMS services where we can do six to eight opioid overdose runs a day,” said Paul Lolli, fire chief of Middletown.
The number of overdoses jumped this year. Last year, there were 532 overdoses. So far, only halfway through 2017, there are already 577.
Also last year, the department spent more than $11,000 on Narcan. This year, $30,000 has been spent on it.
This is a result of more overdoses and the increasing strength of the drugs addicts are using, officials said.
The number of deaths from overdoses is on track to increase, as well. Last year, there were 74 deaths. So far this year, there are 51.
Leaders are frustrated trying to find a solution.
City council member Dan Picard is proposing a three strikes system. After the first two overdose rescues, the person would perform community service for the equivalent amount of money used on the lifesaving response.
The third strike is a bit more controversial.
"If the dispatcher determines that the person who's overdosed is someone who's been part of the program for two previous overdoses and has not completed the community service and has not cooperated in the program, then we wouldn't dispatch,” said Dan Picard, Middletown city council member.
The fire department said they are required by law to provide Narcan if they do respond to an overdose.
Picard said this plan is not aiming to solve the drug problem; it’s an attempt to save the city’s finances.
"We've got to do what we've got to do to maintain our financial security and this is just costing us too much money,” Picard said.
Until legal advisers look at the plan proposed by Picard, the fire department is applying for grants and accepting donations to fund more Narcan.
WEBVTT MITCHELL HASTHE STORY FROM MIDDLETOWN.REPORTER: LIKE MANY CITIES INOHIO, MIDDLETOWN IS STRUGGLINGTO DEAL WITH THE HEROIN PROBLEM.>> WE ARE FACED WITH STRESS ONOUR SERVICES, PARTICULARLY THEEMS SERVICES WHERE WE CAN DO 6-8OPIOD OVERDOSE RUNS A DAY.REPORTER: THE NUMBER OFOVERDOSES JUMPING THIS YEAR.LAST YEAR THERE WERE 532 TOTAL,HALFWAY THROUGH 2017, THERE AREALREADY 577 THIS YEAR.LAST YEAR THE DEPARTMENT SPENTMORE THAN $11,000 ON NARCAN, SOFAR THIS YEAR $30,000 HAS BEENSPENT ON NARCAN A RESULT OF MOREOVERDOSES, BUT HOW POWERFUL EACHONE IS.LEADERS ARE FRUSTRATED TRYING TOFIND A SOLUTION.>> MORE ARRESTS MORE PEOPLE INJAILREPORTER: CITY COUNCIL MEMBERDAN PICARD IS PROPSING A THREESTRIKES SYSTEM.THE FIRST TWO STRIKE AFTER ANOVERDOSE, THE PERSON WOULDPERFORM COMMUNITY SERVICE FORTHE EQUIVILANT AMOUNT OF MONEYUSED ON THE LIFESAVING RESPONSE.THE THIRD STRIKE IS A BIT MORECONTROVERSIAL.>> IF THE DISPATCHER DETERMINESTHAT THE PERSON WHO'S OVERDOSEDIS SOMEONE WHO'S BEEN PART OFTHE PROGRAM FOR TWO PREVIOUSOVERDOSES AND HAS NOT COMPLETEDTHE COMMUNITY SERVICE AND HASNOT COOPERATED IN THE PROGRAM,THEN WE WOULDN'T DISPATCH.REPORTER: THE FIRE DEPARTMENTSAYS THEY ARE REQUIRED BY LAW TOPROVIDE NARCAN IF THEY DRESPOND TO AN OVERDOSE.PICARD SAYS THIS PLAN IS NOTAIMING TO SOLVE THE DRUG PROBLEMIT'S TRYING TO SOLVE THE CITIESFINANCES.>> WE'VE GOT TO DO WHAT WE'VEGOT TO DO TO MAINTAIN OURFINANCIAL SECURITY AND THIS ISJUST COSTING US TOO MUCH MONEY.REPORTER: UNTIL LEGAL ADVISORSLOOK AT THE PLAN PROPOSED BYPICARD.THE FIRE DEPARTMENT IS APPLYINGTO GRANTS TO FUND MORE NARCAN.