Published Jan 21, 2019 at 6:53 PM | Updated at 8:33 PM EST on Jan 21, 2019
The City of Alexandria responded to four suspected opioid overdoses in 72 hours, including the deaths of two women.
“We have created spike alert system, where when we see a certain number within a certain amount of time, we know that there could be a public safety and health issue and so we want to push out that information as quickly as possible,” said Capt. Gregg Ladislaw of the Alexandria Police Department.
With this latest overdose spike, they are still awaiting the medical examiner reports to find out exactly what’s to blame — whether it’s deadly fentanyl or something else, but investigators are moving ahead to try to find the source while encouraging the surviving victims to get treatment.
“Our primary focus is getting the person who overdosed into help and treatment,” Ladislaw said. “Our real focus after that is then looking to figure out if we can disrupt the illegal safe and distribution of the narcotics at a higher level.”
The help starts with a new initiative: Detectives deliver recovery bags to overdose survivors. Among the items inside is a phone programmed with a number leading to treatment.
“In them are plugged two phone numbers, the detective’s and the treatment system’s phone number,” said Liz Wixson of Alexandria Community and Health Services. “Twenty-five percent of the time we’ve been able to connect with that person and get them help. That’s extraordinary.”
City officials hope their warning will reach those who are struggling with addiction and their loved ones.
Health officials want people to know the overdose reversal drug NARCAN can be picked up for free from the Alexandria Health Department at 4480 King St.
Alexandria has resources available for people dealing with opioid addiction, as does the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.