With four more months left in 2016, Manatee County Emergency Medical Services has already spent nearly $60,000 more this year on Narcan than it did in 2013, a sign of the scope and expense of the area’s heroin epidemic.
In 2016, Manatee County EMS, which saw a 208 percent increase in Narcan this July compared to last July, spent $73,216.88 so far. In all of 2013, the county spent $14,231.75.
Narcan is a medication that can quickly reverse the effects of a drug overdose.
James Crutchfield, the county’s community paramedicine chief, shared these statistics with the Addiction Crisis Taskforce on Thursday afternoon. But Manatee County government is not alone in seeing an increase. In July, Manatee Memorial Hospital had 344 people come into the Emergency Room with overdoses. So far this month, they’ve had 207 overdoses.
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“We are seeing mid-30s is the big one,” Laura Little, with Manatee Memorial Hospital, said of the age range of the individuals who overdose.
Bradenton Police Department is also experiencing the same type of increases, according to Jeremy Giddens with the department.
Many times police officers arrive on scene before EMS and the fire department so allowing the officers to use and carry Narcan in aerosol form would help, Giddens said, adding that it would cost $17,000 for the agency to implement.
“We are prepared to move forward, it’s just a matter of funding,” he said.
During Thursday’s meeting, the Addictions Crisis Taskforce, which is comprised of community stakeholders, heard a presentation from Department of Children and Families about grant money that will be available to Manatee County to help address the overdoses. Over a five-year period, there will be approximately $6.1 million available, which will be split among the counties identified, including Manatee, Palm Beach, Broward, Hillsborough and Duval.
“The good news is Manatee was written into this,” said Sharon Kramer with Drug Free Manatee. “At least Manatee is getting funding.”
When individuals are getting out of places such as the Centerstone hospital in Bradenton, they are relapsing due to one of two variables: transportation or housing, according to Shane Pflieger, a county community paramedic.
“Let’s get them the resources they need and hold their hand,” he said. “They need that structure.”
Cathy Wilson with Centerstone said the issue is really housing.
“We have a huge problem with housing in this county,” she said. “That’s a huge piece to our problem.”
Cost of narcan to Manatee County government
- $14,231.75 in 2013
- $30,653 in 2014
- $59,204.08 in 2015
- $73,216.88 in 2016