State health officer at opioid summit: 'I don't know of a bigger public health crisis'

  • Source: Decatur Daily
  • Published: 07/10/2018 10:37 PM

The country’s opioid crisis led to more than 60,000 deaths in 2017, exceeding the number of Americans who died in the Vietnam War, State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said Tuesday. “I don’t know of a bigger public health crisis,” Harris said, speaking at an opioid summit hosted by the Mental Health Center of North Central Alabama at the Turner-Surles Community Resource Center. In Alabama, opioid deaths per 100,000 population increased from a rate of 11.8 in 2010 to a rate of 16.2 in 2016, putting the state at No. 35 in a ranking among states, he said. ... Decatur Fire Chief Tony Grande said the crisis also has an “unseen cost” to responders besides the risks of responding quickly to an emergency and treating overdose victims. When there’s a 911 call to report an overdose, “at least eight first responders are attached to that call,” from the dispatcher to firefighters and ambulance personnel, he said. There are emotional “hammers on all those people.”


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