TRUMBULL CO., Ohio (WKBN) – For the third time this month, an EPI alert has been issued in Trumbull County due to a rash of drug overdoses.
The county is using a state reporting system — used to monitor health problems in all of Ohio’s 88 counties — to track overdoses.
Nineteen overdoses this weekend triggered the latest alert. There were seven on Saturday, 11 on Sunday, and one very early Monday morning.
The coroner believes two of those people died from an overdose. There have been 19 total overdose deaths in Trumbull County in the month of March so far.
“It’s a disease. It’s an epidemic unlike any other and it’s taking our resources and all of our stakeholders in Trumbull County to get a grip on it,” said Kathy Parilla, with the Trumbull County Health Department.
This is the third time in March the number of overdoses has surpassed a state statistical threshold before an alert is sent out.
When an alert is issued, a response plan is triggered. Law enforcement, the coroner, and the Mental Health and Recovery Board receive a notice of the alert.
Parilla said they then have to make sure they’re stocked up on naloxone, also known by its brand name, Narcan — an opioid overdose reversal drug.
“It makes sure we have enough Narcan here at the health department so we can refill for our first responders. Make sure there’s enough Narcan to battle what’s going on.”
Earlier in March, 23 people were revived with naloxone during a 48-hour period.
The total number of overdoses in Trumbull County so far this month is 126. Three EPI alerts have been issued.
Over a dozen police and fire departments are carrying the drug reversal kits.
“We are saving lives and it could be a lot worse,” Parilla said. “So we do look at that and say, ‘That’s progress.’ We’re getting the Narcan kits out on the street and people’s lives are being saved.”
Still, the number of overdoses is overwhelming and there is constant talk about what can be done to turn back the epidemic.
“Just trying to come up with other ideas and other strategies that we can use to combat this because it’s very devastating for Trumbull County right now,” Parilla said.
Each time there’s an overdose, it affects more than just one person.
“It’s very sad, it’s devastating. It’s devastating to see what it does to the person that’s using, but also those families that are involved because it touches everyone,” Parilla said.
The number of overdoses was 45 for all of February. Already, the county has almost tripled that number for March, with four days still left to go.
Project DAWN [Deaths Avoided With Naloxone] kits — the free, statewide naloxone distribution project — are available at the Trumbull County Combined Health District on Chester Avenue NE in Warren. To get a kit and make an appointment, call the health department at 330-675-2590 option #3.