In the last month, there have been more than 50 opioid overdoses in Sacramento and Yolo Counties, including 13 deaths, according to the Sacramento Bee. They’re all tied to counterfeit prescription pills sold on the street that contain a powerful drug called fentanyl.
"We're seeing it over in Sacramento, we're seeing it in Roseville, and it's just a matter of time before we start seeing it here in the Reno/Sparks area," says Adam Heinz, spokesman for the Regional Emergency Medical Services Authority or REMSA.
To learn more about what RESMA is doing to prepare, our News Director Michelle Billman spoke to Heinz.
Along with providing continuing education for ambulance crews on handling overdose deaths, REMSA also monitors emergency calls with a biosurveillance system to quickly determine if a public health pattern is developing. That pattern could be an outbreak of norovirus or swine flu. It could also be a rash of overdoses.
"Basically, what happens is if there is a cluster of calls, it gives us a trigger so that we can work with the health department and then they can use the public health division to begin public campaigns and awareness," Heinz explains.
Another game-changer has been the passage of the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act in Nevada last legislative session. The law grants immunity to drug users who call 911 to save a friend from overdosing. It also provides better access to a life-saving drug called naloxone, or narcan, which can reverse the effects of an opioid overdoses.