Oneida County Overdose Response Team Issues Overdose Alert

The Oneida County Overdose Response Team has received an Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program (ODMAP) Spike Alert Notification of 21 heroin overdoses that resulted in five fatalities over the past 10 days, primarily in the cites of Utica and Rome.

“Using ODMAP surveillance data to capture real-time reports of overdoses, the Overdose Response Team has developed a spike alert process, where when we see a certain number of overdoses in a certain time period, we know that there could be a public safety and health issue, so we mobilize to push out that information as quickly as possible” said Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr.

While the spike could be due to a number of causes, such spikes are often related to tainted or potent heroin, including heroin laced with fentanyl. Fentanyl is one of the strongest opioids available, so the likelihood of overdose from that kind of product is very high. Seven of the overdoses took place in a 24-hour period.

The Oneida County Overdose Response Team is calling on heroin users, their family members, friends and the public in general to help save lives by reaching out for help and paying attention to the behaviors of individuals around them and signs of overdose:

• Person is not responsive

• Fingertips or lips turn blue or gray

• Breathing is slow, shallow or has stopped

• Person is gurgling or making snoring noises

Always call 911 in a life-threatening situation and do not leave the victim alone. As a reminder, the Good Samaritan Law states that anyone who in good faith seeks care for themselves or someone experiencing a life-threatening emergency will not be charged or prosecuted for a drug- or alcohol-related offense including possession of drug paraphernalia, with some exceptions.

Family and friends of persons at risk of a drug overdose or those using opioids should carry Narcan (Naloxone). Narcan is a life-saving medication that, if administered during an opioid overdose can potentially save the life of the individual. Narcan is available at various local pharmacies throughout the county – the public is encouraged to dial 2-1-1 to receive assistance in finding Narcan trainings near them, along with information regarding medication drop off boxes, and treatment and recovery services.

“We are still awaiting official reports to confirm if it’s deadly fentanyl or something else, but investigators are moving ahead to try to find the source while encouraging the surviving victims to get treatment” said Oneida County District Attorney Scott McNamara, Oneida County Sheriff Robert Maciol, City of Utica Chief of Police Mark Williams, and City of Rome Chief of Police Kevin Beach in a joint statement regarding the investigation.

The Oneida County Overdose Response Team is a subgroup of the County’s Opiate/Heroin Task Force. The team was established to address the opioid/heroin overdose crisis in Oneida County. The goals of the team are to use ODMAP surveillance data to reduce the number of people dying from drug overdoses and reduce the number of fatal overdoses.