Dealing with deadly drugs: law enforcement responds to overdoses

Published: Jan. 24, 2017 at 6:20 PM EST
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Over the past week, law enforcement from Woodstock to Waynesboro have been investigating several opioid-related overdoses. At least three of those overdoses were fatal.

Last weekend, Shenandoah County Sheriff's deputies investigated three overdoses within a 24-hour time span. One of those was fatal, and was believed to be related to another heroin overdose. Since then, deputies have made

to the overdoses.

This past weekend, the Rockingham County Sheriff's Office

after a 31 year-old woman overdosed on heroin. Similarly in Waynesboro, police responded to a call Saturday night for

. One woman died, and another man is in critical condition.

Police say the growing heroin and opioid crisis is alarming, and with so many overdoses close together, police want to reach others who may have the same, deadly drug before it kills them. Police are also looking into whether the drugs ingested in the overdoses was potentially cut with a more potent opioid, like Carfentanil or Fentanyl.

"They are exponentially more powerful than any other kind of narcotic that is out there and we're not saying that to make it sound alluring, but to make it sound as dangerous and fatal as it is," said Sgt. Brian Edwards of the Waynesboro Police Department of the powerful drugs.

Additionally, every time an officer or emergency worker comes in contact potentially with one of the drugs, they must undergo an extensive decontamination process.

Sgt. Edwards added not even Naloxone or Narcan can always bring someone back if they have overdosed on heroin mixed with one of those drugs. As Valley law enforcement continue to see an increase in calls for overdoses, they can see the growing public health crisis right in their communities.

"Unfortunately, with a lot of the drug trends, the body count starts racking up before law enforcement, prosecutors, health officials are able really to wrap themselves around the problem," added Sgt. Edwards.

The General Assembly is considering bills to increase punishment for those providing deadly drugs as well as to make Naloxone more accessible.