Opioid Crisis Strikes Austin: Surge in Overdoses Sparks Emergency Response

Opioid Crisis Strikes Austin: Surge in Overdoses Sparks Emergency Response

Austin, TX: Texas is looking into a “outbreak” of opioid overdoses in Austin, where emergency workers reacted to dozens of calls from Monday to Wednesday. Nine people are thought to have died.

The Austin-EMS Division Chief Angela Carr said at a news conference Wednesday that from Monday evening to Wednesday evening, Travis County EMS reacted to 75 cases of overdose. According to Hector Nieto, a spokesman for the county, the Travis County medical examiner’s office stated that it is looking into nine cases of apparently fatal overdoses.

Nieto told the American-Statesman, that preliminary toxicology results showed fentanyl in nine cases, cocaine in eight cases, and methamphetamine in three cases. At first, city officials got together on Tuesday to talk about the investigation into the possible deaths.

Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services Assistant Chief Steve White said that by Tuesday morning, emergency workers had received more than 50 calls about overdoses. This is about a 1,000% increase in the number of overdose calls in a day, according to officials.

At a news conference on Tuesday, White said that Austin had not seen so many deaths since K2, a synthetic cannabinoid, hit the city in 2015. White says that Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services gets one or two calls a day about overdoses.

To date, the National Institute on Drug Abuse has reported that more than 106,000 people in the United States died from drug overdoses in 2021. And the number of deaths from synthetic opioids (not including methadone) rose to 70,601 in 2021.

Before, police said that calls for help with overdoses started in downtown Austin at 1 a.m. Monday and spread to other parts of the city until 4 a.m. Tuesday. White said Tuesday that many of the patients were found to be having a heart attack.

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Different types of people and ages came to the hospital, but none were younger than 18, according to Austin Police Assistant Chief Eric Fitzgerald. Most of the calls came from companies, homes, and public places in downtown Austin as well.

Eastlick had said before that people caught selling fentanyl could be charged with murder or with making or delivering a controlled substance that caused death or major bodily injury.

To help fight the problem, a new law in Texas added different levels of felony charges for making, delivering, or selling fentanyl. Violations of the law can lead to murder charges, with the harshest punishment being life in jail.

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