Police Scramble to Track Cause of Overdoses

Published 04/30 2014 06:27PM

Updated 04/30 2014 06:52PM

WINOOSKI, Vt. - Fletcher Allen now says there were nine heroin overdoses on Tuesday. We learned Wednesday two occurred in Winooski, a city now racing to figure out who's selling this new, strong batch of heroin.

No one died, but it’s still an alarming stat for Chittenden County police departments, including Winooski.

"No, it's not coincidence, it can't be," Winooski Police Chief Steve McQueen said.

"We really don't know at this point what they were ingesting, whether it was laced with fentanyl for example, or if it's just very strong," he continued.

St. Michael's Fire and Rescue responded to the two overdoses that occurred in Winooski Tuesday.

“Doing it twice in one day was really unusual, I can't remember the last time that's happened," St. Michael’s Fire and Rescue Assistant Chief Leslie Lindquist said.

In both cases narcan was administered, and likely saved lives.

“When it gets administered in the right amount of time it works very quickly and it reverses the impacts and allows someone's respiratory drive to come back, they start breathing on their own, they start to wake up,” she said.

We spoke to hospitals around the region Wednesday. Aside from Fletcher Allen, none reported heroin overdoses. That, according to Chief McQueen, suggests the Chittenden County issues stem from the same, local drug supply.

McQueen's department is now investigating the overdoses, and whether there's a connection to weekend drug busts. Winooski Police say they're sending samples from the weekend drug busts to the state lab for testing, but results may take weeks to come back, and by then, it might be too late to figure out who was selling the drugs, and where they came from.

Vermont has recently focused on treatment and prevention, but McQueen says cases like this prove the state needs to put more resources into drug enforcement.

"We have not done a very good job as a state in disrupting the supply," according to McQueen.

Until that happens, he says, addicts will keep choosing the easy way out--continued drug use. That will continue to drain city resources.

"If we're doing this, we have to compromise someplace else."

Fletcher Allen says one of the nine overdose victims was admitted to the hospital. St. Mike’s Fire and Rescue said no additional cases had been called into them as of Wednesday afternoon.

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