Local ambulance workers cope with spike in drug overdoses

wwny Local ambulance workers cope with spike in drug overdoses

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - A spike in overdose activity in Jefferson County can take a toll on first responders. But, the CEO of a local ambulance company says sadly it has become routine.

Guilfoyle Ambulance is one of the first responder agencies that gets dispatched to overdoses. Lately there have been a lot of them.

Earlier this week, there were 5 in Jefferson County in a 24 hour period. Since October there have been 11 possible overdose deaths.

"It can be scary for all parties involved. All life is precious. You don't want to see anybody pass away, especially from an overdose so time is of the essence, so it's a pretty critical situation," said Bruce Wright, president and CEO of Guilfoyle Ambulance.

Wright says the last few weeks have been constant with overdose calls but he says overdose activity typically ebbs and flows. He says responding to these types of calls can be frustrating for first responders and can take an emotional and physical toll.

"Especially being in a small community there could be a possibility they may know the patient they're treating or may know the family or just empathize with the situation," he said. "Seems like something that can be avoided and that might be the frustrating part. See a lot of this happen in your younger populations and that can be emotionally troubling when you're seeing people your age and younger pass away."

Although it can take its toll, Wright says it's nothing new to first responders.

“We’ve been treating opioid overdoses for dozens and dozens of years and Narcan is not a new drug in our bags that we’ve been using. It’s just something that unfortunately we’ve become accustomed to doing,” he said. “We’re just dealing with this batch of opioids going around on the streets.”

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