New Haven, Connecticut has been rocked with a series of overdoses since Tuesday night, 18 of the cases occurring in just a little more than three-and-a-half hours. NBC-CT reports that 30 cases of sickness or overdose have been reported so far, and police are searching for a suspect. They believe the cause was a batch of K2 laced with opiates or fentanyl.
Emergency crews responded to three suspected overdoses Tuesday night in the New Haven Green, near the Yale campus. Just hours later on Wednesday morning, 18 people collapsed in the same location, all in the span of less than four hours. After the local fire department was called, several agencies responded to the group of people getting sick from suspected overdoses. The victims were of all ages and their symptoms ranged from vomiting and lethargy to unconsciousness.
Paramedics administered naloxone on the scene, but found it to be ineffective. Seven patients were sent to Yale-New Haven Hospital. Officials at the hospital said the patients were received at the locations on York Street and Hospital of Saint Raphael. At a press conference on Wednesday, hospital officials stated that the patients were helped with higher does of naloxone. Out of the 30 cases reported so far, there have been no fatalities, but some patients remain in critical condition.
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The DEA has been notified about the case. At this point, it is not possible to be certain what the people took that made them sick, but the prevailing theory of K2 seems most likely. K2 is marketed as a synthetic marijuana substitute, and according to the The National Institute on Drug Abuse it has the potential to be more powerful than marijuana itself. In some cases, it can even be fatal.
While fentanyl or opiates are the suspected drug that the K2 was laced with, other reports have said that it might have been PCP. Currently, tests are being run to find a definitive cause of the mass overdoses.
The opiate epidemic reaches far beyond New Haven, Fire Chief John Alston Jr. reminded everyone at a press conference held on Wednesday.
“People are self-medicating for several different reasons and every agency — police, fire, medical, hospitals — all are strained at this time. This is a problem that’s not going away,” Alston said.
No arrests have been made and the suspect has not been identified, but police said that the individual is known to them.