ROCKBRIDGE COUNTY, Va. – Before the pandemic, the opioid crisis was a major issue that united so many across the country in the fight to end it. During the pandemic, however, things only got worse.
Nationally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says fatal drug overdoses surged 20% during the pandemic, killing more than 83,000.
Officials tell WSLS 10 News that within Division 6 of the Virginia State Police, which spans from Allegheny County to as far south as Martinsville, they saw a reported 106% increase in heroin or opioid-related overdoses last year compared to 2019.
“Sometimes it comes in waves,” said Rockbridge County Deputy Christopher Wade.
He was the first person in the county to use Narcan, the life-saving medication that reverses opioid overdoses. Wade keeps his supply in a “go bag” that is always in the backseat of his patrol car.
“We’ve had numerous incidents with I-81,” explained Wade.
Wade responded to an overdose call along Interstate 81 where someone overdosed in their tractor-trailer bed. On this call, he used both vials of Narcan, which is believed to have saved the victim’s life or at least kept them alive to receive proper medical attention.
“Very few times you’ll do CPR on someone. I hate to say it but very rarely does it work,” stated Wade. “Just to actually see as they’re getting carted off someone go from looking like they were dead to now they’re up and about. This lady was not very happy about being up and about, but she was fine.”
While the work continues to prevent opioid addiction, Rockbridge Area Community Services is teaching everyday people like you how to use this lifesaving drug.
The training is called ‘Revive!’ It is a 1.5-hour course that covers understanding opioids, how opioid overdoses happen, risk factors for opioid overdoses and how to respond to an opioid overdose emergency with the administration of Naloxone.
Click here to register for the free training.