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Overdoses on the rise in Pocatello

Overdoses on the rise in Pocatello
Capt. Nathan Hauser of the Pocatello Fire Department closes the doors of an ambulance.

POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - Overdoses are on the rise in the Gate City. On Christmas Day, the Pocatello Fire Department responded to three separate overdoses, one fatal.

According to Bannock County Coroner Ely Taysom, fatal overdoses have remained steady -- approximately one every week and a half -- but he is aware of the rise of non-fatal occurrences.

At Station No. 2, Capt. Nathan Hauser said the department has received more overdose calls than they normally expect, but couldn't provide exact numbers. Hauser isn't sure exactly what's behind the spike but said you can't pin it on just one thing.

"It could be that people have gotten ahold of drugs that are laced with something else a little more potent, it could be that there is a more pure substance out there," he explained. "There's a lot of different reasons."

Hauser has been a paramedic since 2013 and has responded to "tens" of overdoses. He said generally the calls come in for someone who has stopped breathing, is breathing ineffectively or is experiencing cardiac arrest.

"Unless there is obvious signs of drug use when we're called, people usually don't want that known," he explained.

When responding to the overdoses, the department administers Narcan, generally intravenously since it is the most effective. Hauser said he's seen it work "in seconds."

Occasionally, Narcan will wear off before the drugs in the user's system do.

"The chances of a secondary overdose, if they don't get that corrected and go get seen, are higher," Hauser said.

Aside from the increase in overdose calls, Hauser said the age of those impacted has been a big concern.

"We see a lot of younger people affected by this. Most of the calls that we've recently had have been people in their mid-20s," he said. "That's telling."

There doesn't appear to be a way to stop these incidents, but education and information can bring further awareness to them.

"Know that there is help," Hauser said. "We're here 24 hours a day, seven days a week."

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