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Thirty-seven people overdosed on opioids in Snohomish County during a one-week period in July, according to a first-of-its-kind data collection project from the county’s health district.
“It was an exciting project, but also sobering,” Snohomish County Health District spokesperson Heather Thomas said, explaining the report took a snapshot of the opioid epidemic.
Between July 17 and July 23, three of those overdoses were fatal.
It’s shocking: 37 overdoses in one week. And we think that’s not all of them. Thirty-eight percent didn’t even call 911,” Thomas said.
First responders, medical providers, community leaders, and local partners such as clinics and syringe exchanges all contributed real-time data on overdoses for the project, in contrast with official numbers that are often fragmented or released six to 18 months than the collection period.
“This entire process was eye-opening,” Jefferson Ketchel, interim administrator for the Snohomish County Health District, said in a release. “From the tremendous support and willingness by our partners to participate in the data collection, to the sobering numbers that just one week uncovered.”
The health district found most overdoses were from heroin, but others were from a combination of heroin and other drugs, such as crack, cocaine, prescription opioids, or alcohol.
Thomas says some wrote in the notes that the “dope was strong,” and the person passed out immediately. This is perhaps due to Fentanyl or another high potency drug found mixed into more and more illegal drugs, according to Thomas.
Northwest Ambulance EMT supervisor Trend Martenson says he responds to an overdose call during every shift. The part of the report he found surprising was that in 16 overdose cases, friends, family members or bystanders administered Narcan.
“A lot of times friends or people associated with someone overdosing, they leave because they’re afraid of getting in trouble. So it’s surprising to me they stuck around to administer the Narcan and didn’t just take off,” Martenson said.
Everett and Lynnwood each saw 11 overdoses, followed by Marysville, which had five.
About half of the overdoses were in people between 21 and 30 years old. The youngest person to overdose was 16, and the oldest was 52.
Snohomish County Health District is discussing how to make similar data collections happen on a regular basis.
“We’ll never have enough treatment. We’ll never have enough Naloxone,” Thomas said. “What are things we can do for kids so they know not to use prescription opioids or drug awareness or having more mental health services available in the community?”