PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The opioid crisis seems to be mounting by the day.
In the last few weeks, Pittsburgh EMTs and paramedics have responded to a growing number of accidental overdoses — many of them in downtown Pittsburgh. The first responders have seen an increase in calls for suspected overdoses due to the lethal drug fentanyl.READ MORE: Fox Chapel Plans To Turn Mister Rogers' Weekend Home Into Park
On Wednesday, KDKA’s Andy Sheehan came upon one suspected overdose on the walkway of the Andy Warhol Bridge.
Luckily for this man, a passerby saw him collapse and called 911. Both Pittsburgh fire and EMS crews responded in time to potentially save his life.
Karen Plavan of the recovery organization CLEAR attributes the increase to people not knowing they’re buying fentanyl.READ MORE: As Eviction Moratorium Expires, Many Worried They'll Be Left Without A Roof Over Their Heads
“They may think they’re buying cocaine and it’s really laced with fentanyl,” said Plavan. “They may think they’re buying heroin, and it might be laced with fentanyl. They may think they’re buying methamphetamine, and it might be laced with fentanyl.”
Overdose deaths reached 737 in Allegheny County in 2017 but receded in 2018 due to the reversal drug Narcan. But in the past two years, fatal overdoses have risen again and are on a grim pace this year.
Plavan cites fentanyl and the pandemic as reasons leading to rises in drug addiction and alcoholism.
“Isolation is the worst for addicts and alcoholics,” she said. “So we had lots of people at home and that leads to anxiety and depressions.”MORE NEWS: Laurel Highlands Nominated For USA Today's Best Fall Foliage Destination
It appears the pandemic and fentanyl have combined to bring about a resurgence in the opioid crisis. And the work for first responders shows no signs of slowing down.