Waging the War on Heroin

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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) On the streets of Northwest Ohio, a surreal drama plays out every day in or close to your neighborhood. It's dubbed the worst drug epidemic ever. Heroin and opioid abuse has tripled. There are no signs it's slowing down. Police, fire, crime rates, medical professionals and you---the taxpayer are all dealing with it. 13abc takes you for a ride with first responders saving lives every night.

Every night Sgt. Kevan Toney grabs a narcan kit .

"We have the contents of the bag. This is one that's been used partially. That's what its going to look like," said Toledo police Sgt. Kevan Toney.

He works the overnight shift. It's not uncommon for and overdose call to come in quickly and often.

"They'll say person down male slumped at the wheel and before you thought it would be a medical emergency or a drunk person. Now when we see calls like that when we are going we think immediately it's going to be a heroin overdose an most of the time it is," said Sgt. Toney.

Just 47 minutes into our ride along Sgt. Toney gets a call for an overdose. We race to Park and Franklin. The man is not responding. His wife fears the worst.

"It's quiet shocking when you get there and you see someone who appears as if they are dead. They are blue unconscious you can barely see they're shallow breathing," said Sgt. Toney.

Police question his wife.

"How did he get there," said Sgt. Toney.

"His boss just drove up and threw him out of the car."

Police gave the man narcan, but it wasn't enough. Toledo fire crews quickly work to save his life. They finally get him to breathe. His wife tells police she's warned him about using heroin.

"He said he quit or I would have thrown him out. I told him if he ever went back on it again I'd throw him out."

The patient is taken to a nearby hospital for more treatment. Naracan can quickly bring back the drug user to life. Sgt. Toney learns from talking to the other crews that there were several overdoses earlier in the day.

"They've had a couple in the last 24-hours themselves and there's been a number tonight. So they think there's a hot batch going around. We'll see maybe another one tonight yet," said Sgt. Toney.

Soon another heroin overdose call comes in. A woman is passed out in a car in front of the Stop-n-Go on Eleanor. Officers did not need narcan to revive her. She woke up on her own. Her boyfriend tells police they used to get high on heroin together. He explains what happened.

" I had to go really bad. We live in our car so it's not like I can go home. I went back behind the building so I was all alone in the dark. I went back to take a (beep) and I came back and she was like this. So I'm like smacking her like babe wake up. What did you do? What did you do? She was out. Has she taken heroin before yes."

Police investigate all heroin overdoses. He gives the officer permission to search their car. While he's looking for the needle the addict used he gets called to another overdose. It's the third overdose on this rainy night. We head to Lagrange. Police find a young female lifeless in a chair in a hallway of an apartment building. The man who called 911 gives police a statement.

"She came here and asked to use my phone for the second time tonight. She was standing right where you were standing and she started to fall back and I helped her sit down and called you guys."

Medics work to open her airways. It was so tense a police officer closed the door on us. When the addict woke up she was agitated. Police say mad because they ruined her high. This is the grim reality of the heroin epidemic on the streets of Toledo. A grim reality that also affects officers on the front lines Heroin laced with carfentanil is a risk to officer safety.

"So we got a bulletin that was found somewhere. It got out on the street and if we touch that it can be absorbed through the skin and affect our heath. So we have to be careful with wearing gloves and protecting ourselves that way," said Sgt. Toney.

TPD has successfully used narcan 144 times.

"Sometimes it can take more doses and extensive intervention by the fire department. A lot of times they'll wake right up and start walking around like nothing happened like they weren't inches away from death," said Sgt. Toney.

Toledo police were tied up all night with back to back heroin overdoses.

"Looks like female caller called and said heroin overdose and hung up," said Sgt. Toney.

Police go into a house on Watson and Berdan. We're told a man is passed out in the living room. His friends claim he took three percocets. Crews immediately know they're not telling the truth.

They inserted a catheter in his neck and give him a few rounds of narcan. He's back to normal, but police still have no information on where the man got the drug.

"I was telling them like this is the fourth overdose that we've had someone is going to die tonight on this stuff and you guys don't care enough to at least give us some information," said Sgt. Toney.

Last year emergency crews made more than 49,000 runs. City leaders say a significant number of those emergency calls were heroin.

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