Heroin has tight grip on Ohio, and AG Mike DeWine summons experts to share ideas on how to fight it

COLUMBUS, Ohio –With a desperate plea for ideas to fight the heroin epidemic, Attorney General Mike DeWine drew 800 first responders and treatment professionals  here Thursday on 24 hours' notice.

That should tell you that heroin has a tight grip on every Ohio community, and everybody is looking for answers.

"I don't think the end is in sight for this epidemic," DeWine warned to open the meetings.

He followed that with a deadly statistic.

"We lose in Ohio three to four people every day who die of an overdose of pain meds or heroin," the attorney general said.

In the first week of January, Hamilton County had 112 heroin-related arrests, 22 overdoses and two deaths.

"We need to do more," DeWine said. "We have to do more treatment. We have to do more prevention."

Cincinnati experts were on hand to share their ideas and successes.

One idea is to greatly expand the use of Narcan (or Naloxone) to reverse overdoses.

Nikky Kelly knows first-hand that it works.

"My experience with Naloxone -- it saved my life two times," Kelley said. "Without the Naloxone, you know I would not be here today."

Ninety percent of Ohio EMS units already carry it.  Green Township Fire and EMS is one of them.

 "Since April of 2011, we've had approximately 250 people that have stopped breathing because of heroin overdoses where we've administered Narcan," said Tom Dietz, Green Township District Chief of EMS.

Colerain Township Safety Director Dan Meloy presented the township's quick response team plan where police, fire, EMS, and addiction treatment experts work with addicts.

"The realization is we need to reach out," Meloy said. "We need to be proactive. We can't let them sit and wait. We need to make them understand that we care and actually do something."

Police were urged to treat overdose cases as crime scenes. The Hamilton County Heroin Task force is already doing that.

"You have to get the key evidence in order to go back to the supplier, which is what our mission is --  to try to get the supplier of the deadly heroin," said Lt. Tom Fallon.

Swapping ideas -- exchanging phone numbers -- these people want to change the outcome.

 "I think it gives us some hope that there are some solutions and there's new  things people are trying and that's what we're here for - to find out what's working," said Newtown Police Chief Tom Synan, head of the Hamilton County Heroin Task Force.

"Our goal is to save lives."

That's the underlying message that these professionals took home with them.

SEE WCPO's complete coverage: Heroin in the Tri-State

FIND help for heroin addicts and their families.


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