Ohio city considers three strike policy on responding to overdoses

(AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

MIDDLETOWN, OH (WLWT)  — A controversial proposal has been made in Middletown to deal with heroin overdoses.

Middletown is considering whether people with addiction should only be given two strikes before they’re out of chances at Narcan.

Middletown is struggling to deal with the heroin problem.

“We are faced with stress on our services, particularly the EMS services where we can do six to eight opioid overdose runs a day,” said Paul Lolli, fire chief of Middletown.

The number of overdoses jumped this year. Last year, there were 532 overdoses. So far, only halfway through 2017, there are already 577.

Also last year, the department spent more than $11,000 on Narcan. This year, $30,000 has been spent on it.

This is a result of more overdoses and the increasing strength of the drugs addicts are using, officials said.

The number of deaths from overdoses is on track to increase, as well. Last year, there were 74 deaths. So far this year, there are 51.

Leaders are frustrated trying to find a solution.

City council member Dan Picard is proposing a three strikes system. After the first two overdose rescues, the person would perform community service for the equivalent amount of money used on the lifesaving response.

The third strike is a bit more controversial.

“If the dispatcher determines that the person who’s overdosed is someone who’s been part of the program for two previous overdoses and has not completed the community service and has not cooperated in the program, then we wouldn’t dispatch,” said Dan Picard, Middletown city council member.

The fire department said they are required by law to provide Narcan if they do respond to an overdose.

Picard said this plan is not aiming to solve the drug problem; it’s an attempt to save the city’s finances.

“We’ve got to do what we’ve got to do to maintain our financial security and this is just costing us too much money,” Picard said.

Until legal advisers look at the plan proposed by Picard, the fire department is applying for grants and accepting donations to fund more Narcan.

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