COLUMBUS, Ind. (WISH) — Bartholomew County has issued a public safety alert after a series of heroin overdoses.
Three people in the last 48 hours are suspected to have overdosed on the drug, according to Bartholomew County Sheriff Matt Myers.
One of those resulted in the death of a 21-year-old woman.
Bartholomew County is the latest in a list of central Indiana communities hit by this drug, which is always described as “extremely addictive.”
“It’s not something that’s easily recovered from or a habit that’s easily broken,” Indianapolis EMS PIO Carl Rochelle said.
Rochelle is a first responder for Indianapolis EMS and deals with the effects of heroin every day.
On Tuesday, he heard the news of the spike in overdoses in Bartholomew County and he was not surprised.
“It’s not really shocking,” he said, “We’re seeing overdoses throughout Indiana.”
He described what happens when a person begins to overdose after taking heroin.
“The biggest problem is they get a respiratory depression, so they’re not breathing deep enough and they’re not breathing fast enough,” he said.
He said the body’s organs start getting deprived of oxygen.
“Then those organs begin to die,” he said.
The life-saving drug Narcan is carried by many law enforcement officers, including those in Bartholomew County.
If it’s administered fast enough, the person may live.
But Rochelle said if the overdose is too fast and the person becomes clinically deceased, the Narcan won’t work.
That’s the process that led to the death in Bartholomew County Tuesday.
“Rapid activation of 911 is critical,” he said, “It’s not something we can wait minutes for to see if they can come around.”
Myers also warned of what he calls “bad heroin” or “ultra-potent heroin that is so pure it can kill unsuspecting users instantly.”
Rochelle said if the heroin is laced with a stronger drug, it could lead to faster overdoses.
“They’re getting more of a concentration of the opiate than they normally would and that would depend on what it’s cut with,” Rochelle said.
Myers said authorities are looking for whoever is responsible for bringing “bad heroin” into Bartholomew County.
He also said this is a wake up call for the families of those addicted to the drug. He asked for those families to step in to try to get them help.