Number of downtown Indy overdoses continues to rise

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– When four residents of an offender re-entry facility near downtown were taken to the hospital suffering overdose symptoms Tuesday night, it highlighted once again the plague of drug abuse on the streets of the Mile Square.

An IMPD report details the call for help at the Volunteers of America (VOA) residential hall at 611 North Capitol Avenue.

A VOA spokeswoman said it was possible the overdose substance, which may have been spice, was smuggled into the facility by an offender.

VOA lists surveillance cameras, bag searches, pat downs, K9 sweeps, drug tests and monthly room and locker searches as efforts intended to thwart such violations.

Indianapolis Emergency Medical Services released a map that showed so far this year, through March 21, crews have responded to at least 73 overdose calls in the downtown area bounded by West, North, East and South Streets.

Overdose map.

Included in that map was one purple dot to represent the call for 20 overdosing patients at the Wheeler Mission one day in late January when several residents succumbed to spice overdoses.

IFD EMS Chief David Kelley said drugs that have been chemically treated with other substances, including bug spray, can render overdose treatment with Naloxone useless.

“We have the carfentanil, spice, there are all different kinds of concoctions that are creating this ultimate high that they are looking for. Most are reversible with our narcan but some are not. That’s where some of our predicaments happen where we cannot reverse some of the homemade concoctions that they come up with.”

Since Jan. 1, daily overdose runs countywide for IEMS have numbered from seven to 27, which is significantly above average.

“It’s any time of the day. Early evening does seem to tend to give a little higher responses,” said Kelley. “Two years ago we would go on single overdose runs, which was not uncommon. Now we’re having multi people overdosing together and it doesn’t matter where it’s at.”

Kelley said emergency crews are finding suburbanites, office employees and other visitors who are not part of the downtown residential population traveling to the city’s core to score drugs or overdosing during the lunch hour or after work.

“We do have our ideas when a new batch comes out. Overdoses do spike from time to time.”