An Ohio town has been so overwhelmed by drug overdose emergencies that a councilman proposed a three-strikes penalty so EMS would not respond to an overdose victim who has required two previous interventions.
Middletown City Council member Dan Picard told the local Journal-News that arresting those who overdose on heroin or other drugs adds to the problem by straining the city budget.
“John Smith obviously doesn’t care much about his life, but he’s expending a lot of resources and we can’t afford it,” Picard said.
City Manager Douglas Adkins didn't immediately weigh in on the proposal, but he says that under state law "when we are called to render aid, we generally have to treat whatever condition we encounter." And the state's Good Samaritan law, designed to encourage people to report overdoses, prohibits police from arresting people onsite for the heroin-related activity, Adkins said.
But Adkins understands the frustrations that prompted Picard's proposal. Last month, a barefoot, 5-year-old boy walked two blocks to a relative's house and announced that his parents were dead. Police say first responders rushed to the scene and revived the boy's parents from heroin overdoses.
"We are sick and tired of some people not caring about their kids enough to allow this to happen," Middletown police said on a Facebook post.
The issue is so critical in Middletown that the city of 50,000 recently convened its 10th Heroin Summit.
Adkins posted a passionate, self-described "rant" on the city's website laying out the seriousness of the issue. Most of the shootings in Middletown, he said, are drug related. And he noted that neighboring Hamilton County is on track to have the most drug overdose deaths in the United States.
"We can’t arrest our way out of this," Adkins said. "I can’t keep it out of the city. It’s a Middletown problem. It’s a southwest Ohio problem. It’s an Ohio problem.
"It’s a national epidemic."
In fact, drug overdoses have become the leading cause of death in Americans under 50, according to data from health agencies across the nation compiled by The New York Times.
Middletown is on pace to spend about $100,000 on the overdose drug Narcan alone this year, Adkins said. That's about 10 times what the city budgeted. And that is a small fraction of the monetary cost of the drug epidemic.
"I’m not going to try to get into the moral implications of whether those laws are good or bad, they simply are the law in Ohio," Adkins said. "What this means is that Middletown will spend about $1.5 million a year responding to and reacting to opioid addiction problems in the city. That’s money that could be spent on other priorities."
Adkins says it's difficult to find people willing to testify against local drug dealers. He says some residents tolerate drug dealers in their community, saying things like "That’s just Tommy. I went to school with him. He isn’t that bad." To neighbors, Tommy is the guy who might get groceries for the old lady on the street or help neighbors when they need a little cash, Adkins said.
"We are going to have to find a better way to deal with poverty in this city than having drug dealers buy groceries and hand out cash," Adkins said.
Neither Picard nor Adkins responded to requests for comment from USA TODAY. But Picard told the Journal-News that refusing to take a third emergency call might help alter behavior of drug users in his city.
“I want to send a message to the world that you don’t want to come to Middletown to overdose because someone might not come with Narcan and save your life,” Picard said. “We need to put a fear about overdosing in Middletown.”
Credits for finding the article @Yellow Brick Reality.
Ohio councilman: After 2 overdoses, no more EMS
Original SourceWritten by: John Bacon, USA TODAY, Aug 23, 2017, Usatoday.
Share This Article
Recent User Reviews
"My hometown born and raised...I beat the devil her"
- 5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Dec 14, 2017
"The 'Hypocritic' Oath"
- 5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Nov 19, 2017
This proposed policy basically nullifies the core and foundation of 'modern' medicine, modern as in how medicine should be executed after the ethical implications that Hippocrates expressed.
What happened to 'primum non nocere' dear councilman? Flushed down the toilet together with your moral? Your humanity? Your greed?
You're a f*cking disgrace to the medical profession and a f*cking disgrace to humanity, making a Faustian bargain that will cost human lives...
What would the councilman have proposed if his daughter were an heroin addict? Or his wife? You only get one guess...
As a medical professional myself these kind of stories make me lose
faith in the healthcare in general; looking down upon addicts as trash instead of human beings. Only for
R.I.P. Hippocratic Oath.
Say hello to the new 'Hypocritic' Oath.
"great article, horrible content!"
- 3/5, 3 out of 5, reviewed Nov 18, 2017
I'm stunned, appalled, speechless, saddened, angered, outraged, indignant, scared, and mystified. This kind of response to the current climate in the opioid crisis/epidemic is not a path to solutions, it's a death sentence for anyone struggling with opioid addiction. Overdose 3 times and risk no emergency medical response??? That's not a deterrent, it's a moral, ethical punishment. This is disgusting!