Could all of the national publicity from a Middletown City Councilman’s question about not responding to some overdose calls the reason behind a significant drop in EMS overdose runs the past four weeks?
Middletown Fire Chief Paul Lolli thinks so.
He said the proposal made at council’s June 20 meeting by Councilman Dan Picard, along with the increased media attention and awareness to the issue, may be why EMS runs for overdoses have decreased by half in the past month.
“We noticed a significant decrease in the number of EMS runs for the past few weeks,” Lolli said. “I don’t doubt that Councilman Picard’s comments may have been a factor.”
According to the Division of Fire, there were 38 overdose runs during the week of June 25 through July 1. From July 2 through July 7, the number dropped to 26 runs. The number of runs dropped again to 12 for the period of July 8 through July 15; and during the week of July 16 to July 22, the number went up to 14.
While the numbers have dropped over that four-week period, the number of non-fatal runs, 629, and the total number of overdoses, 689, have already exceeded the total numbers for all of 2016. And, the number of fatal overdoses, 60, is approaching the total number of fatal overdoses, 74, that was recorded for 2016.
On one day — July 26 — Lolli said there were zero overdose runs.
“That hasn’t happened in a while,” he said.
Lolli also said in addition to the huge amount of publicity, Middletown police and the Butler County Sheriff’s Office BURN unit have increased their presence with drug sweeps in the city.
“We generally see that after a sweep,” he said.
Lolli also thinks that Picard’s comments may have made more people aware of the problem.
“I think it woke up a lot people and opened their eyes and ears about the problem” he said. “More people are paying attention.”
Lolli is hoping this current downward trend is not a short-term thing.
“You often see peaks and valleys in something like this,” he said. “Hopefully we can get in a valley and stay there for awhile.”
Lolli also said the “more people that have a stake in this, the more successful we’ll be in solving the crisis.”
Picard told the Journal-News he thought the drop in the number of overdoses “was great.”
“Until someone points something else out, I’m going to take some credit for it,” he said. “I also know there have been a number of drug arrests made.”
“Maybe its a coincidence, but whether it is or isn’t, it’s a good thing for the city,” Picard said.