CITY HALL — Chicago Fire Department paramedics are treating a slew of heroin overdoses, with 74 over the last 72 hours.
According to Assistant Deputy Fire Commissioner Mary Sheridan, the department treated 34 on Thursday alone. She said the victims were treated with an antidote, stabilized and taken to area hospitals.
A batch of heroin laced with the pain killer fentanyl and being sold on the West Side has been blamed in media reports.
"Hopefully, we'll get this heroin off the streets," Sheridan said Friday at Fire Department budget hearings.
Ald. Emma Mitts (37th) asked about the recent overdoses.
The Police Department reported Friday that it "is aware of multiple heroin overdoses," and various department divisions are working to attack the problem and "identify the source."
Heroin-spiked fentanyl has caused deaths across the country. Fentanyl is a synthetic painkiller prescribed to cancer patients and other sufferers of chronic pain.
"Add fentanyl to heroin, its potency goes through the roof," Jack Riley, acting deputy administrator for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration recently told the Washington Post.
The Post report says that the DEA issued a nationwide health alert on fentanyl but where it is coming from is a mystery. The drug is not being diverted from hospitals or drug stores so some experts believe it is coming from clandestine labs in Mexico. Others believe it is being made in China and shipped through Mexico.
In the mid-2000s, a two-year outbreak of fentanyl-heroin use resulted in the deaths of more than 1,000 people.
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