The following was written by Casey Nolen and appeared on KSDK.com
ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. (KSDK) – Even if there’s no such thing as a normal day in the ER, Tuesday was particularly tough at St. Anthony’s Medical Center in south St. Louis County.
“In addition to our normal heart attack, strokes we saw a large amount of heroin overdoses,” said Dr. Zachary Tebb, M.D.
Starting around noon, the doctor and his team saw four heroin overdoses in less than one hour. Doctors say three of the patients came in from the House Springs area in Jefferson County and the fourth from the Mehlville area in St. Louis County.
All four survived, and doctors credit the overdose antidote Naloxone that they say was administered by paramedics with helping to save their lives. But they are concerned that the spike in overdoses is a sign there is a more dangerous drug being sold in the St. Louis area.
“Something potentially is different,” said Tebb, who believes other opiates could be added to the heroin before it’s sold. “It just proves that just using it once is incredibly life threatening.”
“No one knows what exactly is in this drug that they are buying,” concurred Jared Opsal with the St. Louis chapter of the National Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse.
Opsal says in the St. Louis region more people are using heroin and more are dying because of it. He says the drug killed 400 in the region in 2014. It’s a number that has steadily climbed over the past four years.
With an overdose spike like Tuesday’s, he worries someone is dealing more potent drugs. But he is also frustrated with Missouri lawmakers.
In this last legislative session, three bills were considered he believes would help fight heroin by monitoring prescription drugs, giving immunity to anyone calling 911 for an overdose and making an overdose antidote available to more people. All three failed in the legislature.
“We’ve seen these bills save lives in other states,” said Opsal, who has helped push for their passage in previous years. “We’re banging our heads against a wall of what is going to take for our community to wake up and fully address this? Because we need to wake up. We need to address it. We’re losing our young people.”