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Kauai authorities sound the alarm after 5 overdose deaths in a single month

Published: Oct. 14, 2021 at 5:33 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 14, 2021 at 11:36 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Overdose-related calls more than quadrupled in September on Kauai, which has first responders concerned.

“We’ve seen a dramatic increase of these opiate overdoses,” said Cody Bonilla, county supervisor for the Kauai Emergency Medical Services, “We’re seeing the cases being linked to fentanyl.”

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic drug, extremely addicting and growing in use. It’s being mixed into counterfeit prescription pills and street drugs.

In September, Kauai Emergency Medical Services responded to 18 overdose calls. Of those, five patients died. That’s a huge jump from August, when EMS responded to just four overdose calls, with no fatalities.

And in July, it was even lower, Narcan was used only twice by EMS, again without fatalities.

“Absolutely concerned,” said KPD Assistant Chief Bryson Ponce.

Narcan is a medicine that can almost instantly reverse the effects of an overdose.

In body camera videos exclusively obtained by Hawaii News Now, Kauai police officers are seen administering Narcan to two women who were unconscious in the Kapaa Ball Park. It happened on Sept. 22.

One woman stopped breathing and good Samaritans were performing CPR. The second woman was barely conscious.

Kauai police officers use Narcan to save two women who overdosed
Kauai police officers use Narcan to save two women who overdosed(KPD)

“Hit her with, hit her with some Narcan,” said one of the officers who grabs a dose from his truck.

The Narcan worked and both women survived.

Kauai police officers now carry Narcan on patrol.

“By them carrying Narcan, it helps us out a lot because we’re not always there,” said Bonilla.

Ponce said it’s not known if a bad batch of drugs made its way to Kauai last month or if this is a new, disturbing trend.

“I think the next three to six months will be tell-tale,” said Ponce.

“We’re hoping people will heed the warning, this drug is dangerous, this drug kills you.”

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