Three people died as a result of fentanyl-laced heroin last Friday, Jan. 28 DC Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Chief Robert Contee said at a Jan. 31 press conference.
Five opioid overdoses happened within the span of an hour.
DC Fire Emergency Medical Services (FEMS) Chief John A. Donnelly said calls began coming in around 11:15 a.m. Friday. Officials said more than ten overdoses occurred in one Southwest neighborhood. In addition to the three people who died, five people were hospitalized. Two patients refused transport and were treated on scene.
Contee added that, while the seven people who survived the overdose were recovering, they were “not yet out of the woods” and asked residents to keep them in their prayers.
On Jan. 26, the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) indicted two Maryland residents on charges related to the death of a District woman who died after overdosing on fetanyl-laced drugs in April 2021.
Contee said while officers don’t yet know where the drugs involved in the Southwest cases came from, they are hoping to trace the source. “We will be looking to seek similar charges agains the individuals responsible for putting this poison in our communities,” Contee said.
The MPD Chief said that first responders have administered 1,800 doses of Naloxone, or Narcan, the nasal spray used in DC since 2019 to reverse effects of opioid overdose, which was also used to revive the Southwest victims Friday.
Both he and Chief Donnelly encouraged people to call 911 if they suspected drug overdose, even if they could administer Narcan to the victim. Medical treatment is still necessary, he said. “These mixes are very dangerous,” Donnelly said.
“If you’ve got to give that Narcan out, call 911,” the fire chief implored listeners. “Let us come help you. Nothing bad is going to happen. We may save your life.”
“On Friday afternoon, we had a mass casualty event,” Councilmember Charles Allen (D) said. The Ward 6 representative was with the impacted Southwest families that day. “We will be dealing and supporting the families through the impact of this for years to come,” he said.
Allen said there are two things that need to be done moving forward. One is accountability for those who put the lethal poison on the street, he said; the other, supporting those struggling with substance abuse and addiction.
Naloxone, which can prevent death in most cases of opioid overdose, has been made available for fee without a prescription in DC drug stores, including those serving Capitol Hill such as Grubbs and the CVS pharmacies.
A video showing the symptoms of opioid overdose and providing instructions about how to administer the Naloxone nasal spray is provided in a video offered by the Opioid Learning Institute. You can order Narcan to be delivered to your home on the site.
If you see or know someone in crisis, the DBH Mobile Crisis number is 202-673-9300 or call 911 immediately. Text “livelongdc” 888811 to get information about where to get Narcan or how to get help with addiction.