A deadly batch of heroin laced with fentanyl took three lives in Western Massachusetts in the last 10 days.
Quick work by local law enforcement in cooperation with Baystate Health, which saw a dramatic increase in ER visits from overdoses, has led to arrests.
Today, District Attorney Anthony Gulluni credits the doctors at Baystate Health for notifying law enforcement after seeing a recent spike in overdoses.
This action, according to Gulluni, helped save lives because those allegedly responsible were arrested.
“This is in large part an opiate with fentanyl which is 50 to 100 times more powerful than heroin,” Gulluni said.
Gulluni, along with Dr. Gerald Beltran of Baystate Health and local law enforcement addressed the dangers of fentanyl.
“Fentanyl crosses more quickly into organs and receptors, so once it gets there it gets into the brain stem,” Beltran said. “It’s the brain stem that gets you to breathe, and when it suppresses that, you lose the ability to breathe.”
This is why authorities said it took much larger doses of Narcan, the heroin reversal drug, to revive many of those brought into the ER who were overdosing.
“The amounts of Narcan required to get the person breathing again is usually one or two doses, 30 to 70 times more was needed for the person to breathe instead of one dose,” Beltran said.
Whether it takes one dose or 30 doses, Narcan has been proven to save lives.
First responders like Agawam Police have carried Narcan for about a year.
“We’ve had a number of successful interventions where we have been able to revive folks and get them breathing again,” Eric Gillis, Agawam Police Chief, said.
Beltran pointed out that during a 24 to 48-hour period, eight overdose victims were brought to the emergency room.
Seven were revived and one died.
Gulluni said three people were arrested and a fourth is wanted.
Charges include the sale and distribution of opiates that caused three deaths.
The district attorney said his office is now pursuing manslaughter charges against those arrested.
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