North Dakota has seen a significant increase in deaths related to overdoses — with a 49 percent increase from 2019 to 2020.
First responders say the issue is not showing any signs of slowing down.
In 2020, there were 118 people who lost their lives due to drugs.
“2021 we’ve already met what we did in 2020 for just responding to overdose calls of nature. We’ve also administered Narcan two-thirds of the amount that we had in 2020 already and we still have four months to go,” said Joshua Davis, Deputy Chief at Metro-Area Ambulances Services.
Davis says once they arrive on scene, they immediately begin securing airways and stabilizing the person.
He says they are noticing there is no specific group of people who are overdosing.
“It’s kind of everybody. It’s from young to middle age. We don’t see a lot of elderly people. We do get them from the nursing home sometimes where they’re just not responding. It’s from a fentanyl patch or too much of a narcotic at one time,” explained Davis.
Bismarck Police Department is seeing a pattern of people overdosing on fentanyl pills, which are commonly mistaken for prescription pills.
Lt. Luke Gardiner says the number of overdoses in the community likely surpasses the calls the police answer.
“How many of those are reported to us? So there’s also a lot of unreported overdoses that we don’t hear about. I would imagine that most of the fatal ones we do hear about. But there’s gotta be a bunch of overdoses that we don’t hear about because people are using Narcan themselves,” explained Gardiner.
Gardiner says drug-related deaths don’t end there, as the police department opens an investigation to locate those responsible for the drugs.
“It could start from somebody getting into a car wreck and then becoming addicted to prescription pills then moving up to heroin. So this problem doesn’t affect just one group of people, it affects a nation,” said Gardiner.
The BPD reports that over the last three years they’ve continued to see a rise in overdoses, every year.