WATERTOWN — Jefferson County experienced five drug overdoses, one of which resulted in a fatality within Watertown’s city limits, within a 24 hour period this past weekend.
Narcotics such as fentanyl, heroin and oxycontin are suspected as the primary drugs, however other drugs or a combination of more than one could be the cause of the overdoses, according to Stephen A. Jennings, public information officer for the Jefferson County Public Health Service.
Of the five overdoses, four occurred in Watertown, with one occurring outside of the city.
“We are working very hard to alert the public regarding overdose activity in as real time as possible,” Mr. Jennings said. “We have a resource available now called ODMAP where first responders can tell us about what they’re responding to and we can take that information and alert the public.”
ODMAP stands for Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program, a web-based system into which users can enter data that can be utilized across the country.
Because Jefferson County is a federally designated High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), Mr. Jennings said the Health Service and other local government agencies are eligible to use the ODMAP program. The program is for first responders to input real-time overdose data, and while not every first responder is using ODMAP at this time, the hope is that eventually every first responder will.
There have been six confirmed overdose deaths for 2019 within the county. However, beginning in October, there are an additional 11 possible overdose deaths pending toxicology confirmation — three from October, seven from November, and one from December — according to a report from the Health Service.
“We know there’s been increased activity around Utica specifically, and we can’t say for certain, but it looks like that wave is coming up here,” Mr. Jennings said. “We are going to be watching and analyzing ODMAP and are trying to get better at obtaining information and getting it out to the community.”
The Jefferson County Public Health Service, Department of Community Services, and the Alliance for Better Communities want to remind people that a number of community resources have been established and expanded to help people who have substance use disorders, and for people to access these resources to receive assistance and treatment:
Anchor Recovery Center of NNY: (315) 836-3460
Credo Community Center for Treatment of Addictions: (315) 788-1530
ACR Health: (315) 785-8222
Samaritan Addiction Services: (315) 779-5060
Samaritan Medical Center - Social Worker on Call: (315) 785-4516
Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
Northern Regional Center for Independent Living: (315) 785-8703 during business hours; and (315) 785-8708 nights and weekends
Mobile Crisis Jefferson County: (315) 782-2327
Hope Line: 1-877-8-HOPENY or Text 46736
To receive Naloxone training and free kits, contact Credo, ACR Health, or the Anchor Recovery Center of NNY.
The public also is reminded of New York state’s 911 Good Samaritan Law, which allows people to call 911 without fear of arrest due to drug possession if they are having a drug or alcohol overdose that requires emergency medical care or if they witness someone overdosing.
According to the Health Service, more information about the situation will be forthcoming.