MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Memphis police are sounding the alarm after a startling spike in opioid overdoses.
As of Friday afternoon, they said 12 people had overdosed and two had died in the last 24 hours.
One of those overdoses happened at the Mapco on Sycamore View at Raleigh Lagrange Thursday evening.
Jerald Noah was working at the Jenny’s Sno Cones stand in the parking lot when he saw Dustin Pittman passed out in his vehicle at a gas pump.
“He was slumped over, had his head down,” said Noah.
When police were searching Pittman’s car, they said they found a straw and a folded $1 bill covered in a white powder that later tested positive for fentanyl.
“If you need help, if you need an ambulance, don’t think that we’re gonna come and arrest you. We’re wanting to help you,” said Col. Paul Wright with the Memphis Police Department.
The Shelby County Health Department said it’s been tracking an uptick in opioid overdoses all week.
Normally, they said they average 300 emergency calls and 20 fatalities in a month. But in the past seven days, they said they’ve logged 62 emergency calls and seven fatalities.
“That’s averaging one death a day. That is more than normal,” said David Sweat, an epidemiologist with the health department.
To combat this, police are urging people who have loved ones with drug problems to learn how to administer Narcan. MPD has more than 1,300 officers who are able to and have also begun passing Narcan out in areas with high drug use.
Police are also asking the public to anonymously report drug dealers to the Organized Crime Unit by calling 901-528-2338 since many street drugs also contain traces of opioids.
“Most people thinking they’re getting the real pill, but you’re not. You’re subject to be getting a pill pressed with fentanyl, and fentanyl will kill you,” Wright said.
Pittman likely only survived his overdose because officers were able to revive him with Narcan.
“They saved his life with that shot. They even said that he may have died if they didn’t have that shot for him,” Noah said.
Those with substance abuse problems can call the Tennessee Redline at 1-800-889-9789.