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'Every second is precious': 23 people overdose in Kenosha in three-week period

Officials stress importance of Narcan after Kenosha OD spike
Posted at 6:37 PM, May 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-17 19:37:54-04

Advocates are warning residents about a spike in recent overdoses in the City of Kenosha. According to Kenosha Fire Department EMS Division Chief Jim Poltrock between April 20 and May 9, there have been 23 overdoses, and about half of those overdoses occurred within a four-day period.

Of the 23 overdoses, there was one fatality. Poltrock reported at a Task Force meeting "that Narcan is being administered routinely, by EMS personnel and by family and friends of drug users before EMS arrives."

"If a person is overdosing every second counts to get them help, to get them Narcan, to them to the hospital. Every second is precious," said Patrice Hall, Kenosha County Medical Examiner and Co-Chair of Kenosha County Opioid Task Force.

In 2017, 57 people died from overdoses in Kenosha County. It was the highest number of deaths the county has seen in recent years. That same year, Hall started the Kenosha County Opioid Task Force as an effort to unite different agencies and provide residents with the help they need.

As part of their efforts, Patrice provides free packets containing Narcan, informational brochures and treatment plan numbers to those struggling with substance abuse. The packets are located inside the Kenosha County Public Safety Building, emergency rooms and at Fire Departments. Patrice said she restocks about five packets a week.

"They can come in, they don't have to talk to anybody and they can take it and go," said Hall. Along with the packets, the task force also hands informational brochures about the signs of an overdose to local business. Hall urges residents to contact the police and get them to help right away if you see someone overdosing.

To date in the City, there was been 79 overdoses and 7 toxicity deaths. Hall hopes by educating the public through Narcan training, it will help reduce the number of overdose deaths this year.

Debbie Rueber, co-chair of the Task Force said along with providing education and awareness, their main goal is to let those that are struggling with addiction know they are not alone.

"A lot of people can't do this on their own and that's what we are here, to help support people in their recovery," said Rueber.

If you would like to find more information about the Kenosha Opioid Task Force clicks here.

If you are would like more information on the Narcan packets click here

For FREE Narcan and Narcan training, contact: Kenosha County Division of Health at 262-605-6741 or, or the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin at 262-657-6644 x 3004.