Chattanooga Police said a batch of bad drugs may have led to five suspected drug overdose deaths in just over 24 hours, Monday-Tuesday.
Toxicology screens are pending, but through investigation officers have determined the four deaths in Chattanooga involve the use of illicit drugs. The fifth death was in East Ridge.
Police said, "The number of overdose deaths in a short period of time is indicative of extremely dangerous drugs being sold and used.
"If you or someone you know purchases/uses drugs please be mindful of this warning.
If you witness an overdose call 911 immediately and do not leave the person alone until EMS or police arrive."
Mayor Andy Berke said, "The Chattanooga area is experiencing a public health issue. Multiple people have died of a suspected dangerous drug overdose in less than 24-hours. Each one of these losses is a tragedy for the victims’ families and our community. We need to ensure more lives are not lost."
Camilla Bibbs-Lee of the Hamilton County Coalition said, "A spike in overdose deaths have been occurring in communities across Hamilton County. Yesterday alone, five people suffered from a fatal overdose - pushing the yearly total of calls for service over the 150 mark."
She said, as part of a rapid response initiative, the Hamilton County Coalition is taking several measures to help reduce the impact opioid overdoses is having on Hamilton County communities.
She stated, “We are planning a series of overdose reversal training and are providing free Narcan (nasal spray) to participants at several locations. One location will be the Hamilton County Coalition office, 5721 Marlin Road, Building 6100, Suite 3200, 37411. We are currently working to secure temporary training sites in the Hixson, Highway 58, East Ridge, and East Brainerd areas.
“We will also make sure the community is aware of the NuStart Program. This program helps people gain access to in-patient treatment and medication assisted treatment — even if they don't have insurance. We will also assist with counseling for victims of the household (children and care givers). To get in touch with our team, call 423-208-3523.”
"If you or your community group want to learn more and help save lives, please plan to attend one of several training sessions in your local community and receive FREE Naloxone. Additional locations will be announced and listed on www.hccoalition.org or call 423-305-1449 to schedule a training. Below are confirmed dates for overdose reversal trainings at the Hamilton County Coalition office.
- Wednesday — 06/12/2019 3:00- 4:30 pm
- Thursday — 06/13/2019 3:00-4:30 pm
- Friday — 06/14/2019 10:00 am- 11:30 am
"If you suspect that someone in the community is illegally making, selling or dispensing prescription medication (like prescription Fentanyl or Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, etc.) or other opiates (like heroin, Fentanyl or Carfentanyl), call the Drug Tip hotline at 423-493-2878 (Chattanooga Police Department) or 423-209-7150 (Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office Drug Tip hotline) or report suspicious activity anonymously to the Hamilton County Coalition website listed above.
"NuStart is derived from The U.S. Department of Justice’s Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Program (C.O.A.P.). C.O.A.P.’s focus is to combat the opioid epidemic by implementing a commitment to reduce the opioid abuse and misuse and the number of overdose fatalities. This commitment focuses on systemwide initiatives and innovative approaches to promote substance abuse treatment and recovery support. This project is funded under a Grant Contract with the State of Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services."
The Hamilton County Coalition (HCC) is a Regional Coalition Resource focused upon empowering communities and reducing the risk of alcohol, tobacco and Rx drug misuse and abuse among youth and adults in Chattanooga and the Southeast Region. As the regional hub, the HCC provides free services to include environmentally friendly ways of disposing of unwanted mediation, medication lock boxes, opioid overdose reversal training, free naloxone, and assistance with opioid treatment, family counseling andrecovery services. The HCC also provides drug and alcohol prevention presentations to youth, young adults and families.