Posted on September 25, 2013 at 8:19 PM
OLYMPIA, Wash. -- An alarming number of hypodermic needles and drug paraphernalia showing up in Olympia playgrounds and parks have parents concerned.
A poke puts their children at risk for HIV or Hepatitis.
“It’s a horrible risk you shouldn’t have to face when you ride a bike or play in the playground,” said Jessica Archer, a parent.
One of Archer’s young sons recently had a close call while riding his bike.
“He crashed and he was just a couple inches from a dirty needle, a couple inches,” she said.
Area pediatricians are seeing an increased number of patients saying they were poked by syringes.
“Used needles in a park often mean drug use so there’s blood, there’s all sorts of concerns of a needle poke,” said Dr. Sara Murdoch of Pediatrics Olympia.
Dr. Murdoch has seen a spike in incidents the last few months, including two patients in one day who both tested negative for HIV and Hepatitis. While there’s a low chance of infection, Dr. Murdoch says the ordeal is agonizing for parents.
“The exposure, the waiting and the not knowing,” said Dr. Murdoch.
“Our community is being put at risk by people right now and it’s not ok,” said Archer.
Complaints at places like Bigelow Park have promoted action by the city. Park Rangers have upped patrols and have started a tracking system.
Since Mid-August, 207 hypodermic needles and 107 drug paraphernalia items have been picked up from outdoor areas and safely discarded.
City park officials have also formed a partnership with Olympia Police called the “Downtown Response Team” to fight the problem.
“It could be anyone’s kid and we shouldn’t have to be on high alert for syringes, we just shouldn’t,” said Archer.