Shelby Co. Health Department releases spike alert report of suspected overdoses

Health department reports spike in suspected overdose deaths

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A “spike alert” from the Shelby County Health Department detailed alarming numbers of suspected overdoses.

“This is a problem in our community and we have the ability to make a difference,” said Dr. Alisa Haushalter, director of the Shelby Co. Health Dept.

Data from the health department shows on Sunday, Aug. 25, there were 16 reports of suspected overdoses. Five were fatal.

"Any of us can be affected by opioid addiction and any of us who are impacted by addiction may actually succumb to a fatal overdose,” said Haushalter.

More than half of the people who died were men. They were between the ages of 30-39 and 50-59 years old. One death happened at 7 a.m. The majority of incidents happened in the afternoon and into the evening.

Officials still don’t know what types of drugs were involved in these suspected overdoses. They are still waiting on the toxicology reports to come back to identify the drugs.

"We get overdoses in real time or at a minimum within 24 hours,” said Haushalter.

Last year, the health department started using a program called overdose mapping. Shelby County is the only county in the state using this type of technology to track overdoses.

"We can see the data. Law enforcement can see the data and then the U.S Attorney's Office or prosecution can see the data,” said Haushalter.

Over 1,400 Memphis Police officers are trained in NARCAN, which is used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. This year, officers have administered NARCAN 169 times saving lives in all, but 10 instances.

"We are doing all we can to identify the suspects or the parties involved with supplying the drugs,” said Lt. Colonel Brenda Patterson with Memphis Police.

A spokesperson with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office told WMC the department has 1,350 doses of NARCAN deployed. So far in 2019, the SCSO has recorded 27 usages of NARCAN.

You can call the Tennessee Redline at 1-800-889-9789 for information on available resources.

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