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After 5 suspected overdose deaths on Thursday, Erie County urges caution

'When we see five overdose-related deaths in one day, we have to alert our community,' health commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein said.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Erie County says that on Thursday, the medical examiner took in five suspected overdose cases. Although toxicology is still pending, the county suspects these are tied to cocaine and opioids, such as fentanyl. 

“When we see five overdose-related deaths in one day, we have to alert our community,” health commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein said. 

There are currently 15 confirmed and 70 cases pending toxicology relating to opioid deaths in 2021. Seven of the confirmed cases involved cocaine.

“Harm reduction tools and our warning – don’t trust your cocaine – can help prevent these tragic deaths. To our community, please, get a Narcan kit and learn how to use it.”

The county wants to remind the public to "never use alone" and to be aware of resources available. The county department of health says that cocaine is likely to contain fentanyl, which is a deadly combination and can stop your breathing. 

Narcan is one resource that can help reverse the effects of an overdose, but it has to be given in time. Erie County provides free Narcan kits to anyone who requests it. Narcan can also be found at pharmacies. 

Narcan can be requested in Erie County by texting (716) 225-5473. Never Use Alone is also a resource the county recommends: neverusealone.com or (800) 484-373.

The county provided the following list of resources:

  • If you are seeking help, the Buffalo and Erie County Crisis Services Addiction Hotline is available 24/7 at (716) 831-7007.
  • If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use disorder, please make sure you carry Narcan (naloxone) at all times.
  • ECDOH’s Text for Narcan” program has expanded access to free Narcan kits. Erie County residents can text (716) 225-5473 and we will provide you with Narcan, no questions asked.
  • Free Narcan kits are available from ECDOH staff and at outreach events throughout the county.
  • Free emergency Narcan boxes are available for businesses and organizations to install in accessible areas in their facility. ECDOH will resupply these boxes with free Narcan kits as needed. Call (716) 858-7695.
  • ECDOH produced a short video on How to Save a Life with Narcan. Watch the eight-minute training on the Erie County YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j8V3JkJ2sZw

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