KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Five people died and more than a dozen overdosed in Kalamazoo within 24 hours, with police blaming a particularly dangerous batch of fentanyl.
This is a significant increase from Kalamazoo County’s average, which is approximately 1.5 drug-related deaths per week, according to Medical Examiner Dr. Joyce deJong.
“We are working to rapidly identify the substances causing the deaths and are in close communication with health department officials and law enforcement to address this urgent issue and prevent any further loss of life,” wrote deJong in a Thursday statement.
Initial clinical reports show cocaine and fentanyl as well as an unknown substance are likely involved in the overdoses.
“Harm reduction precautions such as not using drugs when alone, administering naloxone when a suspected overdose is occurring, and calling 911 are important efforts at this time,” Kalamazoo County Medical Director Dr. William Nettleton said in a statement.
The Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety said it is investigating the overdoses.
Anyone with information on this case is encouraged to submit a tip online via Silent Observer or call 269.343.2100.
The county’s Health and Community Services Department said the risk of a fatal overdose is always present for people who use both stimulant drugs like cocaine or methamphetamines or depressant drugs like fentanyl or opioids.
KDPS also urges anyone affected by substance abuse to reach out to its partners at Integrated Services of Kalamazoo at 269.373.6000 or Southwest Michigan Behavioral Health at 800.781.0353.