TROY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Rensselaer County officials held a press conference Thursday morning after more than a dozen overdoses within a matter of 14 hours, including two deaths.
Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin described Wednesday night’s events as bedlam.
“What we saw last night we have never seen around here,” said McLaughlin.
Across the Capital Region, there were reportedly 30 overdoses linked to cocaine and crack cocaine laced with fentanyl. At least 14 of those overdoses were in Rensselaer County. About a dozen were reported in the city of Troy, and two were in the Schaghticoke and Speigletown area.
Troy Police Deputy Chief Dan DeWolf said some of the overdoses occurred on the 300-block of 3rd Avenue, 1600-block of Highland Avenue, 800-block of 6th Avenue, and on Oakwood Avenue near Eddys Lane.
“Beginning around 4:30 p.m. yesterday afternoon we got a call for an overdose, and from that point on, until 6:30 this morning, I think we’ve responded to a dozen or more calls for overdoses, and unfortunately, in two of those cases, two people died,” he said.
DeWolf added that a few of the overdoses caused car crashes.
“One was on 5th Avenue near 105th and another was at 6th Avenue near Middleburg,” said DeWolf.
Rensselaer County’s Commissioner of Health, Mary Fran Wachunas, said they also have reports of at least ten overdoses in the Clifton Park area. She warns that other areas of the Capital Region should be prepared to see it in their communities.
“This is not a problem that is an inner city problem; this is a region-wide problem,” said McLaughlin.
Police warn the bad batch of drugs is likely still circulating and said they’re working collaboratively with a number of local agencies to find those distributing it to get it off the streets.
McLaughlin, Wachunas, and Troy Mayor Patrick Madden said the overdoses were not necessarily people struggling with addiction — some of it appears to be recreational use. Wachunas warns that cocaine is not what it used to be and that those who are dabbling need to know it could be a deadly decision.
“This is not what you have seen before. These are folks that are professional in many instances. You are really rolling the dice with your life; you’re playing Russian roulette with your life when you take this stuff. It can and it will kill you,” said McLaughlin.
McLaughlin said, while they’re certainly not encouraging anyone to use drugs, they also understand the reality that it will happen, so they’re pleading with anyone using to also use the resources the county is offering, including free Narcan and Fentanyl test strips.
“We will deliver it to you, no questions asked,” said McLaughlin.
Wachunas said, last year, the county had a total of 34 fatal overdoses. So far this year, the county has 31 fatal overdoses and the majority of those have happened within the last two months.
“March 17 was our first positive COVID case in the county. We’ve had, sadly, 28 folks pass from COVID. We’ve had 23 die from overdoses in that exact same window,” said McLaughlin.
For those seeking help with drug addiction, a county helpline has been established. Call 1-833-467-3123 for assistance. Fentanyl test strips are also available by calling the Health Department at 518-270-2655.
The strips determine the presence of fentanyl in drugs and are offered on a no questions asked basis. Narcan can also be obtained for those in need. To obtain Narcan, text the word “Narcan” to 21000.