Parish sees heroin emergency

Published 4:58 am Saturday, June 17, 2017

Local officials are growing concerned about the recent increase in drug overdoses, particularly those associated with heroin.

Our Lady of the Angels Hospital Communications Manager Angela Lambert said Friday that Mark Keller, who’s in charge of the emergency room at the hospital, told her Lambert “over the course of the last seven days there were 45 heroin presentations in the ER.”

“That’s a huge spike, “ she said. “It’s almost 10 times what we typically see. Over the past two years, when heroin made a re-appearance in the parish, we’ve averaged two or three a week.”

Eric Reed, operations manager for Northshore EMS, said he’d “lost count.”

“It’s crazy,” he said. “We were called to one address three times. If you see a friend taken off unresponsive, why would you shoot up? And we had to go to another address two times.

“I’ve been here 24 years, and it’s the worst I’ve ever seen. It’s crazy. It’s like a pandemic, when you have so many in one time frame. It’s unreal. But we’ve been pretty successful so far, getting them the Narcan in time for them to wake up.”

Reed said Northshore regularly has the Bogalusa Police Department or the Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office go with its responders when a drug call comes through.

“What they’re hearing on the street is that people are mixing heroin with fentanyl, a real potent pain medicine,” Reed said. “We’re just trying to take care of the medical side, and these self-induced needs take us away from maybe older people who are having a heart attack. It’s stressful, and our guys have to stay on their toes. I admire them. But it’s our job.”

Bogalusa Police Chief Kendall Bullen said he counted at least 21 heroin ODs in 72 hours, starting last Thursday.

“It’s the quality of the drug itself,” he said. “It differs according to where it came from, and you never know where it came from. It might be laced with fentanyl. It’s like playing Russian roulette.

“It’s been in New Orleans for years and years, and it took a long time to get here. It’s been in big cities for a while, and it’s spreading out now. It’s one of the biggest drug problems we’ve ever faced.”