On Thursday, city officials declared a major public health crisis after a series of overdose cases spread across the city of New Haven. A batch of heroin and fentanyl has been the cause of 20 overdoses and two deaths.

New Haven citizens have been warned about a life-threatening situation on the streets, after cases of heroin overdose started to emerge throughout the day. Officials have confirmed the batches of drugs are mixed with fentanyl.

New Haven heroin overdoses
On Thursday, city officials declared a major public health crisis after a series of overdose cases spread across the city of New Haven. Credit: WVPublic.org

Due to the high number of overdose cases, the city is running out of Narcan or naloxone, a drug used to reverse overdoses immediately. A critical shortage of the drug has been announced after more cases of overdose started to show up.

“We’ve had quite a hectic time. I don’t recall an incident where it’s been like this,” said Assistant Fire Chief Matthew Marcarelli.

Overdose cases spreading across the city

New Haven County, located on the northern shore of Long Island sound, has a total of 862,477 citizens being the second-largest city in the state, which has been suffering an opioid epidemic for some time.

In April, the House of Representatives passed in a unanimous vote legislation that would help the state fight the epidemic. Starting by monitoring the prescription of painkillers and avoid “over-prescribing” the drugs.

Despite the efforts, a batch of heroin mixed with fentanyl, which is a potent synthetic opioid analgesic, has spread across town and caused over 20 overdoses and two deceased.

The emergency calls started at 3:30 p.m. when patients with clear signs of overdose began to show up. The past three weeks have been filled with this new batch of the drug since six other overdoses happened before in North Haven.

Around 3:30 p.m., emergency calls were pointing that six people had already overdose with three blocks from each other in Newhallville and on Lander Street. Emergency officials quickly responded with Narcan to eliminate the overdose.

“I don’t ever recall a day like this ever. I don’t think we’ve had this amount in a very, very long time. We have barely enough Narcan to get throughout the night. We are hoping it calms down since we almost used the whole Narcan supply in the city,” said Marcarelli to the New Haven Independent.

City officials managed to obtain bigger batches of Narcan from Yale-New Haven Hospital and an ambulance service in Hartford.  

Another call was issued, a little after 4:00 p.m. from a baseball field parking lot. A baseball coach who was in Bowen Field training with his team issued the call. The coach reported a car sitting in the lot and a single shoe hanging outside the driver’s seat

Around 6:30 p.m. police officers found another vehicle nearby. The baseball field and two men passed out with a drug overdose.  Meanwhile at the scene, officials found three men passed out in a car.

After reviewing the cars, officials stated that the men had not consumed the drugs there since there was nothing in the cars. Initial rumors suggest they consumed elsewhere and moved to the location.

Around 9 p.m. another call was made to the police department about a parked car in a Walgreen’s parking lot near the George and York streets. Where a mom and a daughter were found, one of which had a cardiac arrest and passed away.

Authorities later confirmed another deceased from a drug overdose, in the baseball field, where officials administered Narcan to the five subjects found. Narcan comes in a 2-milligram doses, yet authorities have had to use more.

“From what I’m told, some patients received as many as four doses. That’s 8 milligrams,” said Marcarelli to the New Haven Register.

New Haven citizens were warned around 10:30 p.m. through text messages and calls about the life-threatening batch of heroin that caused an overdose epidemic in the city,

National opioid crisis

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), deaths from opioid use have quadrupled since the year of 1999. From that year to 2014, around 165,000 U.S. citizens have died from an overdose.

CDC assures the prescription of these drugs is what is encouraging the crisis since 14,000 people who have died from overdose were using prescribed drugs. In some cases, illegal drugs are acquired as a substitute for prescribed expensive drugs.

The three more common opioids for an overdose are Methadone, Oxycodone, and Hydrocodone and are more common in people from 25 to 54 years old. Rates are also higher among white citizens, Alaska natives, and American Indians when compared with Hispanics and African American.

The opioid crisis has been a federal fight since the beginnings of 2015,  Obama’s government has declared a national crisis and medical experts have assured it’s damage to the public health of the country.

Source: New Haven Independent