Recent string of drug overdose deaths has Black River Falls on high alert

9 drug overdoses last week near Black River Falls

A recent string of drug overdose deaths in Black River Falls has the community on high alert.

Since Jan. 1 there have been four separate drug-related deaths in Black River Falls but there have been even more close calls.         

One EMT said in all of his 21 years on the job, he has never seen the number of drug overdose incidents increase this quickly.

“I haven’t really seen much of it until the last year or six months have really been terrible,” said Steve Collins, an EMT in Black River Falls.

Just in the last week alone, there have been about nine drug overdoses resulting in two deaths and seven close calls.

“It’s pretty shocking to me I guess to be sitting here and going, ‘We’ve had two deaths over the weekend,'” said Jody Stoker, EMS division chief in Black River Falls.

“It’s hit us pretty fast here in the last few months,” said Collins.

And when a call comes in for a potential overdose, often times the EMTs aren’t even sure what they are dealing with.

“It’s not just one drug,” said Stoker.

“The ones that we’ve been running into is heroin, we run into the meth and there’s been some cocaine out there. There are things out there too that I have never even seen,” said Collins.

But if the person shows signs of an overdose, Narcan, a drug that counteracts an overdose, is given.

“If we see that they have pinpoint pupils and they are not breathing or they are breathing below a normal rate, or below level 8 is our protocol, then they get it,” said Stoker.

Both EMTs admitted Narcan does save lives. However, it all has to do with time, something not everyone has.

“We cover 1,000 square miles of territory. Some of our distances are 20 to 30 miles out,” said Collins.

“If the timing is right, it works. But 10 miles out and they haven’t been breathing, their chances go down the tubes pretty quickly,” said Stoker.

The Black River Falls Police Department is asking everyone to keep an eye out for suspicious drug activity. If you see anything call the department at 715-284-9155. Anonymous tips are welcome.