Firefighters struggle to keep up with overdoses

Firefighters struggle to keep up with overdoses

On the front lines of a heroin epidemic, local firefighters are experiencing a scary new normal. Some fire stations are responding to dozens of overdose calls a day. The fear is that if the epidemic gets any worse, some departments will not be able to keep up.

For Delray Beach Firefighters it's not difficult to tell when a deadly batch of heroin has hit the streets. The overdose calls start coming in; some as overdose intoxication, others come in as cardiac arrest or trouble breathing. The common denominator is that the patients are all in their 20s or 30s.

Some can be brought back from the overdose state with Narcan, an opiate antidote fire rescue and police officers use when responding to overdose calls. For others it's too late. Street heroin is getting stronger because it's laced with other drugs like Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid. The number of 911 calls keep growing.

"If it continues to grow do we have, whether we want to or not, do we have the physical and/or financial resources to maintain a service level that we need to maintain?" asked  Chief Neal de Jesus, Delray Beach Fire rescue.

At 6 p.m. on WPTV NewsChannel 5  we go on the front lines with Delray Beach Fire Rescue and show you why firefighters are calling this an epidemic.

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