Sandusky Co. sees decrease in overdose deaths

Sandusky Co. sees decrease in overdose deaths

SANDUSKY COUNTY, OH (WTOL) - The opioid epidemic is one of the deadliest issues in the state of Ohio.

"It's a common call almost like a chest pain call," Sandusky County's EMS Chief Jeff Jackson said.

The call for an overdose is common in Ohio. Many counties continue to see overdoses spike. However, Sandusky County is one of the exceptions to that trend.

"It affects everyone whether it's a family member who's actually OD'd or a friend of a friend," Sandusky County Sheriff Sheriff Chris Hilton said. "But when you start talking about the financial consequences and all those things so it's a detriment to our community as a whole."

Overdose deaths went from a spike in 2016 with 23 deaths to just nine confirmed deaths in 2017. Close to ten cases are still pending an autopsy.

"We've kind of come together to figure out what are we doing wrong and how can we make it better in the county," Chief Jeff Jackson said. "One of those was the health department securing funding for Narcan to get that out into the first responders and law enforcement agencies."

Last year marked the first year law enforcement in Sandusky County carried Narcan and Sheriff Hilton says it surely saved lives.

While 2017 saw a decrease in overdose deaths it also showed an increase in the use of Narcan. In 2016 they used about 155 doses of Narcan and in 2017, 178 doses.

Clearly the drugs are not disappearing. Instead, Sheriff Hilton believes drug users are just switching the drug they use.

The county passed a levy in May that will bring in dollars for a drug task force. Sheriff Hilton believes that will change things for the better and help strengthen their fight against the opioid epidemic.

"The case load is going to go up," said Sheriff Hilton. "The buys the C.I.s [criminal informants], the search warrants, all of those things are going to significantly increase… I expect to see some large results coming up in the next six to 12 months."

Being one of the few counties in the state to see a reduction in overdose deaths, they credit the entire counties partnership and unity. From education, to awareness, recovery support, law enforcement cooperation, health officials, even commissioners.

"Having those options for the individuals who are dealing with the difficulty of substance abuse and having it right at their front door," said Kay Reiter, a Sandusky County commissioner. "I think it will make a huge difference for our community."

County leaders are hopeful the trend will continue to decrease in 2018 and they are committed to keeping at the fight.

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