Hawaii sees dramatic increase in fentanyl-related overdoses reported in September

Law enforcement sources confirm fentanyl is suspected in another death on Oahu. It’s the second in less than a week.
Published: Oct. 10, 2022 at 4:42 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 11, 2022 at 7:34 AM HST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Law enforcement sources confirm fentanyl is suspected in another death on Oahu. It’s the second in less than a week.

Meanwhile, Department of Health data shows fentanyl-related overdoses are happening on every major island in the state.

Honolulu Emergency Medical Services crews used to be able to go a couple weeks or more without responding to an overdose.

But lately that’s changing.

“I’ve gone to five in the past two weeks,” said Manahel Al-Hozail.

The Honolulu EMS paramedic says fentanyl was suspected in all of those cases. She added patients are popping up in communities across the island.

On Sunday, a 26-year-old man was found dead at a home in Hawaii Kai. Sources confirm a HAZMAT team discovered fentanyl at the scene.

It’s the second time in less than a week the drug has been linked to a deadly overdose on Oahu.

According to law enforcement, the other fatal OD happened Tuesday in Kaimuki.

“Yea, absolutely it’s a concern,” said Dan Galanis.

The Department of Health epidemiologist recently dug through a year’s worth of EMS reports from across the state and found there’s been a major uptick in the number of fentanyl related overdoses ambulance crews are responding to.


Between October 2021 and September 2022, EMS was called to a total of 132 fentanyl-related overdoses in Hawaii. Twenty-four of those happened last month alone.

“That is definitely a spike,” Galanis said.

That increase coincides with a warning from Hawaii’s federal drug task force.

Last month, officials sent out a bulletin alerting the public about deadly fentanyl powder and rainbow color pills being sold on Hawaii Island.

According to Galanis, the majority of overdoses within the past year have occurred on the neighbor islands.

During that same one-year time period, 36 fentanyl-related overdoses were reported in Hawaii County, 28 on Maui, 44 on Oahu and 24 on Kauai.

He says cases have generally involved young adults.

“Overdoses that are related to heroin and fentanyl you see people in their 20s and 30s,” said Galanis.

Of the 132 overdoses, reports showed all but three patients were still alive when paramedics arrived on scene.

“Administering Narcan early can definitely save lives,” said Al-Hozail.

The nasal spray is used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

“It’s a great thing to have,” she said. “We’ve had a couple of cases where they (the patient) overdosed and a friend had Narcan.”