Heroin deaths outpace motor vehicle deaths in Milwaukee County

Heroin deaths jumped 72% from last year in Milwaukee County. It's a deadly addiction, 119 families lost their loved ones to heroin in 2014

Jason Flegner, Deputy Director with Bell Ambulance says, \"When you get to most of these calls it appears the person is dead.\"

Flegner sees heroin cases first hand, \"Typically the person is breathing very slow and shallow that's typically what causes the respiratory arrest.\"

Bell is training every ambulance first responder to use Narcan, the drug that reverses heroin overdoses. Until now, only some paramedics could carry the drug and there was a backlog, but Governor Walker's bill to reduce heroin allowed the drug to be carried by more ambulances to reduce overdose deaths.

Flegner says, \"Someone who went from the edge of death's door, within a minute of someone taking Narcan up the nose, they're sitting up and wondering what's going on.\"

Heroin deaths are climbing. Milwaukee County heroin deaths outnumbered motor vehicle deaths starting last year. In 2012 there were 53 heroin deaths versus 72 motor vehicle deaths. In 2013 there were 69 heroin deaths, and 51 motor vehicle deaths. In 2014 heroin deaths were at 119, and motor vehicle deaths totaled 74. The average heroin death is 39 with some as young as 19 and as old as 80.

Sarah Schreiber, with Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office says many heroin users end up at the Medical Examiner's Office.

Sarah Schreiber says, \"It's sad so many people are affected by this and the families that are left behind, with unanswered questions like how did it get to this, we had no idea this was coming.\"

She says dealers are increasing their potency, making the \"street dosage\" unpredictable and overdose likely.

Schreiber says, \"We are getting more of the drug and less of the cutting agent, so what you thought you were taking in terms of dosage is increasing because we have a more pure drug on the street now.\"

Flegner is relieved that Narcan will soon be on every Bell Ambulance.

Flegner says, \"I think it will bring peace of mind the the first responders who before were waiting for a paramedic ambulance to show up.\"

The addiction rate for heroin is extremely high, so experts say you're better off just never taking it. 

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