Muncie dispatchers overwhelmed by weekend overdose spike

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — There have been so many recent overdoses in Muncie, officials are still trying to calculate them all.

Right now, they believe at least thirteen people overdosed this past weekend, likely on a bad batch of heroin. At least three people died as a result. The coroner believes that number could go up to four once his work is complete.

April Buckles is a Delaware County dispatcher. She says the number of overdose calls coming in left her drained and frustrated there seems to be no sign the epidemic is stopping. This weekend was especially tough for her.

“We had overdoses left and right each day,” said Buckles.

Between 2 p.m. Friday and 10 p.m. Sunday, Delaware County dispatchers took more than a dozen overdose calls.

“This particular day, we had an overload of people and they were not coming in as just one particular person, but they were coming in doubles,” said Buckles.

According to an early analysis, at least five calls came in on Friday, four on Saturday and two more Sunday.

Other calls came in as “unresponsive” or unknown calls by strangers, who saw people unconscious or slumped over the steering wheel of their calls, could turn out to be OD’s too.

In one case, the dispatch call-logs show people had to break the windows of a locked car to get to the two people inside.

The police chief says this weekend’s tragedies are accelerating discussions about the police department’s role in helping overdose victims.

“Should the Narcan be carried by police?” asked Muncie Police Chief Joe Winkle rhetorically. “Is that something we should have available to us? I don’t know that we want to take that responsibility, but that’s obviously something else that’s on the table.”

For Buckles, hearing more people lose loved ones makes it that much harder to not take the mental image of those calls home with her.

“The mother’s crying,” said Buckles. “You know, we’ve even had an 8-year-old child who called and tried to do CPR on her mother who had a heroin overdose. But this year has been, it’s been a plague of heroin overdoses.”

The coroner is now performing autopsies, but that’s expected to take four to six weeks. Only then will police have a better idea of what exactly killed or nearly killed so many people this weekend and maybe get them closer to finding who sold it.

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