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Toledo's opioid-related overdoses, deaths spike in 2020

Despite efforts to fight the opioid crisis in Toledo, the city saw an almost 40% increase in overdoses in 2020 compared to 2019.

TOLEDO, Ohio — Overdoses hit a record-setting spike in the city of Toledo in 2020.

Despite efforts to fight the opioid crisis in Toledo, representatives with Toledo Fire and Rescue (TFRD) said the city saw an almost 40% increase in overdoses in 2020 compared to 2019.

The department began tracking overdose data in October 2018. 

2020 Totals

  • 2630 ODs, +38% increase. Of those, 1834 were Opioid-related, +24% increase
  • 213 Fatalities, +41.3% increase
  • 1745 Narcan incidents, +22% increase

2019 Totals

  • 1907 ODs. Of those, 1442 were Opioid-related. 
  • 140 Fatalities
  • 1394 Narcan incidents

01 Oct 2018 - 01 Jan 2019 Totals

  • 322 ODs
  • 12 Fatalities
  • 263 Narcan incidents

Naloxone, commonly known as Narcan, is a medication that can be used to quickly reverse an overdose caused by an opioid drug.

Overdoses are becoming a very standard run for first responders all throughout the city.

"Our firefighters are just fatigued at going out and trying to resusitate these folks as best we can," TFRD EMS Bureau Supervisor Lt. Zakariya Reed said. "It becomes really draining emotionally on our crews when we have to go out and do this." 

Reed believes there's a constant pipeline for opioids coming into our community. The COVID-19 pandemic also hindered access to resources that can help people fight addiction. 

Leave-It-Behind Program

Because of limited access to resources, the fire department started the Leave-It-Behind program in May 2020 which allows firefighters to leave narcan kits with someone who has overdosed or their friends and family. 

The program is supported by the Lucas County Health Dept. and the HEALing Communities Study.

Lucas County provides the naloxone as part of their Project Dawn grant, a community-wide naloxone distribution program. 

More than 100 narcan kits have been given out since May and the fire department knows at least nine have been used, and likely more. 

"If people can get naloxone, plus we give them a quick tutorial on how to do CPR, they can keep things going until we get there. The four or five minutes it takes for us to get there, it makes a world of difference and we're seeing that every day," Reed said. 

For opioid use disorder resources in Lucas County, click here.