DAYTON, OH (WCMH) — In less than six months, nearly 400 people in Montgomery County, Ohio, have died from an overdose.
“We’re on a pace to have 800 people die this year due to overdose in our county,” Sheriff Phil Plummer told NBC News. “Per capita, we’re number one in the nation in overdose deaths.”
Dayton, like other American cities, has seen the synthetic opioid fentanyl flooding the community.
In Ohio, it has sent the death toll surging. According to data from the Montgomery County coroner, 365 people died of drug overdoses from January through and May of this year; 371 people died of such causes in all of last year.
On any given day, Montgomery County sheriff’s deputies respond to multiple overdose calls and are equipped with Narcan, or naloxone, a nasal spray that counteracts the effects of a drug overdose.
Each deputy carries two doses, but that isn’t always enough to save lives. One deputy said that more than 20 doses were needed to revive a recent victim and that victims often don’t survive.
Coroner Kent Harshbarger says he’ll have processed nearly 2,000 overdose deaths, and that the county morgue is consistently filled with overdose victims.
Because his staff covers one-fifth of Ohio, he estimates that the state will see 10,000 overdoses by the end of 2017 — more than were recorded in the entire United States in 1990.
“This is no different than some kind of mass-casualty event in any other form. It’s just a medical event,” Harshbarger said. “It needs to be recognized that way to bring some federal assets to help us.”