POCONO TOWNSHIP, MONROE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – The drug epidemic has seeped into small communities, including Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania. Overdoses happen daily; some are lucky enough to survive, but others lose their lives.
Monroe County’s 911 Center recently started compiling its overdose statistics, and the numbers are staggering.
Today is December 18th. So far this month, 21 overdose-related 911 calls have been placed in Monroe County.
Pocono Township Police officers respond to about 2 or 3 drug overdoses each month.
“It’s a crisis, there’s no doubt,” says Chief Kent Werkheiser, Pocono Township Police Department.
In 2015, Pocono Township officers became the first in Monroe County to carry Narcan. The medication can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.
“After looking at it harder, I said we need to be doing this, we need to be carrying this stuff,” Chief Werkheiser explains.
Monroe County’s Control Center now compiles overdose statistics.
“We had somebody go back and research the data from for a three year period, only because of the news media exposure to the situation,” says Gary Hoffman, Director of Communications.
What they found is astounding.
The statistics suggest, this year alone, 444 overdoses have been called into the county.
“It’s very scary…extremely scary,” Hoffman remarks.
Every time someone calls 911 and says the word ‘overdose’, that record is added to the statistics.
There are some conditions the numbers don’t reflect.
County officials don’t know if the substance was illegal, if the overdose was intentional (such as a suicide attempt), or if the overdose was a mistake made by a patient or caregiver.
Hoffman says, “we’re just going on raw numbers right now.”
Every morning, the updated information is sent to law enforcement and medical professionals.
Chief Werkheiser explains, “it gives you a better vision of what exactly is going on around you.”
In reality, county officials say the numbers could be higher or lower. These statistics are meant to give general information to first responders who are involved in overdose situations.
Unless the word ‘overdose’ was stated during a 911 call, the numbers don’t include patients diagnosed with an overdose in the emergency room, or autopsies that determine ‘overdose’ as being the cause of death.