MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Fentanyl is a drug the Martinsville Police Department has come to know well over the past few months.
"In the last two or three months, we've probably seen eight to 10 overdoses," Martinsville Police Department Lt. Sandy Hines said.
Most, according to a news release from the police department on Friday, have been caused by fentanyl.
Some of the overdoses have been fatal.
Hines suspects fentanyl is finally starting to make its way from bigger cities to smaller ones like Martinsville and local drug users are experimenting with it.
"Fentanyl is anywhere between 50 and 100 times stronger than, say, heroin," Hines explained. "They're shooting up, say, an amount they would normally shoot up of heroin but they're shooting up that much fentanyl and it's hurting them, killing them."
Martinsville firefighters respond to overdose calls to treat the victim.
With medical calls increasing and an already small staff, Martinsville's Fire Chief said the overdoses challenge the fire department.
In January 2017, the Virginia Department of Health ranked Martinsville and Henry County as the number one area in the state for opioid overdoses.
"We're going to respond, even if our units are stretched to the limit," Fire Chief Ted Anderson said.
He encourages people not to hesitate to call 911.
He says sometimes a caller won't say exactly what happened because they're afraid of getting in trouble, making responding to the call even more challenging.
"One of the best ways to prevent this is to not put yourself in a situation where you have to make that choice to begin with. So please, share that with your family. Talk to your children about it," Anderson said.