A city council member in Ohio, the state with the highest number of heroin overdose deaths, has proposed a controversial way to deal with the issue.
A Middletown, Ohio city council member has proposed a new plan which would prevent people who need medical assistance from receiving help from city-dispatched first responders more than twice under certain conditions, according to WKYC.
The proposed plan would work like this: If a person experiences two overdose rescues by first responders, and that person has not completed community service equivalent to the cost of the medical assistance they received from the first responders, the city would not dispatch medical services a third time to the overdosing person.
"If the dispatcher determines that the person who's overdosed is someone who's been part of the program for two previous overdoses and has not completed the community service and has not cooperated in the program, then we wouldn't dispatch,” Dan Picard, the Middletown city council member, said.
In 2017 so far, the city has spent $30,000 on Narcan, a drug used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. In 2016, the Middletown Fire Department spent $11,000.
“We are faced with stress on our services, particularly the EMS services, where we can do six to eight opioid overdose runs a day,” Paul Lolli, fire chief of Middletown, told WTAE.
The fire department said if they respond to an overdose, they’re legally required to administer Narcan.
At least 4,140 Ohio residents died from drug overdoses in 2016, according to The Columbus Dispatch. That number is 36 percent higher than 2015, when the state “by far” had the most overdose deaths in the U.S.
The city council member said the proposed plan isn’t meant to solve Ohio’s drug problem, but rather an effort to save the city money.
Meantime, the city’s fire department is in the process of applying for grants and is accepting donations to fund more of the life-saving Narcan drug.