No Overdoses Reported in Ludlow in Last Month
In a sign of the times, there was some surprise at the Ludlow City Council meeting last Thursday when Fire Chief Rob Dreyer announced that there had been no dispatches for heroin overdoses in the city in the past month.
With the entire region gripped by its struggle with heroin addiction, even smaller cities like Ludlow have found the treatment of addicts to be commonplace. The city typically sees ODs in the low single digits on a monthly basis, but for there to have been none in a month is not usual.
"I would say a lot of it is attributable to the police department," Dreyer said. "They are out there being aggressive. We're out there when (heroin users) make a mistake and we were lucky, to be honest."
"Hopefully the trend will continue," said Councilman Tom Amann.
Police Chief Scott Smith said that the department was watching closely four houses that were suspected to be involved in dealing heroin and that three of those homes were vacated quickly. "They said enough is enough," Smith said. "I think it's big that we're pushing them out of the city."
Another factor in the sudden drop in overdoses may be Narcan (naloxone), the over-the-counter overdose-reversal tool. Police and fire departments have been equipped with the tool, administered nasally, and users can also buy it at local stores.
Activity on the city's drug hotline is not where Chief Smith would like it to be, however. He said that most calls still go to 911. Ludlow approved a hotline last year with the idea that bypassing 911 dispatch and connecting callers directly to a Ludlow K9 officer, suspected drug activity could be broken up more quickly. At the time, Smith explained that drug transactions take less than five minutes to complete and any effort to respond within that time frame should be pursued.
Though it has not lived up to what was hoped for, Smith is not ready to give up on the hotline just yet.
"We're looking at several different things," he said, noting that some proposals may be more expensive than current allocations, and that those proposals would be brought before council after further exploration. "We are getting calls, it's just not producing what I want it to produce."
Councilman Bill Whitely said that citizens may not be aware of the hotline and that a marketing campaign should be launched with yard signs. "Put them all over the city," he said.
Smith said that the department is also looking at developing a smart phone application (app) that may be even easier to use and more effective than the hotline. Kenton County Fiscal Court recently voted to create a hotline, too.
Chief Smith said that this month's self-defense training class for women filled up as soon as it was announced so more classes will be offered in the future.
Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher of The River City News