Chico, California was the epicenter this weekend for a mass overdose. The incident took place Saturday in a residential home, resulting in one death and more than a dozen people were sent to the hospital.
According to Chico Police Chief Michael O’Brien, the primary substance involved is believed to be fentanyl, the most dangerous drug according to the CDC and the most commonly used drug in overdose as reported by recent government studies.
Police responded to an overdose 911 call around 9:12 am Saturday morning. Chico Fire Department Division Chief Jesse Alexander told the station it was the most significant mass casualty incident he had seen in years. Although Chico is no stranger to overdose related cases, he gave details of how he saw six people undergoing CPR at the same time.
He believes Naloxone was the main reason so many lived that day. The police chief said officers quickly administered CPR and six doses. Naloxone is known for reversing or blocking the effects of an opioid overdose and is often carried by first responders.
Investigators believe the overdoses were a result of some form of fentanyl and another substance that hasn’t identified. Only one out of a dozen adults died at the scene, while the others remained in critical care.
Reports claim two officers who were the first on the scene were also rushed to the hospital after they reported feeling the effects of a drug similar to fentanyl, they were both treated and released without any harm.
The property is now under investigation and is being treated as a hazardous materials site. According to O’Brien, the situation would have been worse if local first responders did not have Narcan- Nasal Spray is a prefilled, needle-free device that requires no assembly and is sprayed into one nostril while patients lay on their back. Most of the countries first responders and local bystanders have adopted the idea of carrying the lifesaving drug.
He urges the importance of Naloxone claiming this is not the first time the treatment has saved lives in his city. O’Brien said drug-related crime is up 200 percent in Chico over the last decade. He notes heroin is gaining in prevalence and is even more dangerous with the reality of fentanyl.
As of Sunday, seven remained in the hospital as police continued their investigation. A Chico Police Department news release announced the address as 1166 Santana Court, just off Ceres Avenue near East Avenue east of Highway 99.
The Butte County Coroner’s Office has identified the person who died during a massive overdose in Chico on Saturday, as Aris Turner, 34, of Chico.
According to the CDC, Fentanyl is a synthetic (human-made) opioid 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine. There are two types of fentanyl: Pharmaceutical fentanyl is primarily prescribed to manage severe pain, such as cancer and end-of-life palliative care. Non-pharmaceutical fentanyl is frequently referred to as illicitly manufactured fentanyl (IMF). IMF is often mixed with heroin and cocaine or pressed into counterfeit pills—with or without the user’s knowledge.