SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – Five more people have overdosed in the Sioux Falls area since last week. That brings the total number of reported drug overdoses in Minnehaha County to 58 so far this year. 13 people have died. The life-saving drug Narcan has been used 26 times.
Thursday night, a 22-year-old man overdosed for a second time and was saved by Narcan. He’s currently in a Sioux Falls hospital in intensive care.
The Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Office and Sioux Falls Police Department use a tool called OD Map to try to get a handle on the problem.
“The trends have not been going down for our overdose events as well as our deaths too,” Minnehaha County Deputy Sheriff Captain Joe Bosman said.
Bosman has been working with the OD Map in Minnehaha County since its implementation in early 2018. Each time an overdose is reported, the location is mapped. A diamond represents a death and the color of the diamond shows whether Narcan was administered and how many times.
“Narcan has saved lives, every month here in Sioux Falls,” Bosman said.
Just last weekend, a man was found passed out in a public place.
“Narcan was used by our deputies and we ended up giving four nasal spray doses to that individual. The person started becoming responsive again; so much so that the medical response was downgraded, from landing a helicopter to bringing in an ambulance to transport to the hospital for further care,” Bosman said.
The State Health Department provides the Narcan to law enforcement through a federal grant. Bosman is hopeful that soon the entire state will begin using the OD Map, which is free to government and law enforcement agencies.
“That would give us a more accurate and consistent picture across the entire state on overdose events and it could help paint a picture if there is some sort of state assistance that’s going to come to help with these opioid emergencies that they can also play a part in that,” Bosman said.
Bosman showed us the difference in the colors and numbers on the map in Minnesota, where there have been 1,700 reported overdoses and 143 reported OD deaths so far in 2019. He says observing what’s going on around us can help predict coming trends.
“We take that knowledge and we learn from it and prepare ourselves, prepare our communities and our law enforcement officers for what happens when that hits us here,” Bosman said.
Experts say the opioid epidemic arrived in three waves. This latest wave is claiming the most lives because of the synthetic deadly opioid, fentanyl, in the nation’s drug supply. But more than 100,000 people lost their lives between 2006 and 2012 to opioid overdose.
Sioux Falls Lincoln High School graduate Alicia Salazar’s mother and sister were among them.
“I always had both parents. They were always together in one house. So it was definitely different just having my dad and little sister,” Salazar said.
But Alicia didn’t have her dad for long. How the opioid epidemic destroyed a Sioux Falls family Friday night at 10.