Another spike in K2 overdoses keeps EMS busy

Dozens of people have been hospitalized after smoking the synthetic marijuana.

K2 is making a comeback in 2016 and emergency officials say it is largely impacting the homeless population in Austin.

“If you're that poor you certainly don't have money to buy expensive drugs to abuse so instead they're trying this kind of stuff and I think there's a bad batch being distributed right now,” said Jane Maxwell, senior research scientist at the University of Texas. She has studied and written much about K2.           

In the last weekend of November, more than 50 people were treated for K2 overdoses. Right after that, this past weekend, more calls.

“We had a total patient count of 43 and we transported 31,” said Captain Darren Noak, ATCEMS.

This is two spikes, two weeks in a row - but officials say it's nowhere near last year's staggering numbers from January to October.

“We ran on average six calls per day,” said Noak.

Now, they're down to three and a half per day for the period of January through October 2016.

“We have seen an overall decrease in numbers but we do get these spikes,” said Noak.

Spikes that use resources and time, but they say they're using resources wisely. Medics descended upon Neches and 7th Streets to camp out and watch out for any od's over the weekend.

“It’s just to make sure we had all those patients dealt with and better utilize resources,” said Noak.

Officials say regardless of who is transported in their ambulance, everyone gets a bill, and they take on all collection efforts so tax payers won't have to foot the bill.

The department says they are staffed to handle the load.

“I don't believe it's had a real quantitative effect on personnel,” said Noak.

They say they will do what it takes to utilize man power and resources most efficiently, like setting up shop when there's a spike, to best use taxpayer dollars,

The average ambulance ride cost varies based on condition of the patient.

It can range from a few hundred to a few thousand. Most of the cases were situated in the downtown area along 7th Street. The second most affected area is out near Del Valle, Highway 71 EB.

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