Crews called to nearly 100 overdoses in 36 hours from K2 synthetic marijuana
New Haven, CT (WFSB) — Since Tuesday night, at least 89 people in New Haven overdosed on what is believed to be the synthetic drug K2.
While it wasn’t as busy as Wednesday, at least 20 more overdoses happened as of Thursday afternoon. This is in addition to the more than 70 that were reported between Tuesday night and Wednesday.
Most of the overdoses have been happening on the New Haven Green on Wednesday and Thursday.
On Thursday morning, fire and emergency crews responded to an area right across from City Hall, working feverishly to bring patients back.
“I just don’t understand why you would keep purchasing this stuff that’s laced, your life is at risk, not a smart thing to do,” said Ahisamac Rodriguez, of New Haven. About five of his friends from the city’s green overdosed on Wednesday.
“Whoever is doing it, is doing it on purpose, handing it out for free, not even buying it, bad intentions from the start,” Rodriguez said.
The synthetic drug K2 is suspect to be the reason for these overdoses.
New Haven Police Chief Anthony Campbell said they have arrested two known K2 drug dealers, one who police believe was just passing out the toxic drug on Wednesday to unsuspecting users.
“It’s our belief that this individual, may have had the intent of trying to get people addicted to this product and thereby starting a chain of clients for themselves,” Campbell said.
First responders said the supply of K2 is quick acting.
“People smoked it, ingested it in some way, went down very fast, almost right in their tracks. The effects did not last long, discharged in most cases from the hospital very soon, which meant they were able to return to the green to seek another high,” said EMS Director Dr. Sandy Bogucki.
In fact, some people overdosed and had to be transported as many as three times.
Officials blamed K2 and said it can often be laced with dangerous or even lethal substances.
“It’s a synthetic, a man-made product so you never know what they’re putting in it,” said Asst. Chief Mark Vendetto, New Haven Fire Department.
Channel 3 was told that the drug is cheap and could be as low as $3.
While the drug tested by the Drug Enforcement Administration was straight K2, some tested at Yale New Haven Hospital showed traces of fentanyl.
New Haven Mayor Toni Harp said the state has pledge to help the Elm City.
“DMHAS will provide for the city recovery coaches, training and dissemination of Narcan, as well as fund a street psychiatrist,” Harp said.
The number of patients had first responders stretched thin and overwhelmed by the number of emergency calls.
The victims ranged in age; however, many are part of the homeless population in the city, police said.
“Throughout the day [Wednesday] it was extremely busy, we had six or seven people at the same time, kind of put a little bit of stress, not only on emergency services personnel, EMS personnel, but throughout the entire city,” said Rick Fontana, New Haven Office of Emergency Operations.
First responders went through a lot of the life-saving anti-overdose drug Narcan. The state even had to send in an extra 50 doses.
No one has died, but police said six people came close.
On the upper green, the Cornell Scott Hill Health Center was set up with nurses and medics working hand in hand, along with a large police presence that will stay here and in the future until they’re able to get a handle on this, not just helping those in need.
They’re also hoping to deter others from coming here and trying to find the toxic K2.
“Better education, more resources, definitely it will be getting a lot more attention from a law enforcement standpoint, of course, resources like Narcan which we had brought in, being able to have Narcan possibly stationed on the green, so we can have a faster response,” Campbell said.