ATCEMS and APD respond as K2 calls spike

UPDATE: Austin-Travis County EMS say they have responded to more K2 patients in downtown.

ATCEMS got the call Sunday morning, three people were unconscious on the 500 block of East 7th Street. A man in his 30s was taken to UMC Brackenridge, two others refused treatment. 

EMS officials say they believe they ingested K2, the synthetic drug.

K2 is mostly making its way around the homeless population, near Austin's Arch downtown. Experts say they worry because there is no way to control what's being put in it, and it's possibly being sold as other drugs, so this problem could get even worse. 

"People need to be careful if they are out in Austin, maybe on 6th Street corridor or somewhere like that, and somebody is selling what they think may be lose joints of marijuana and may end up being this stuff, so i think people have to exercise a little caution that they may not think they had to do," said Jack Fineberg, the Vice President and Clinical Director of Phoenix House.

 Since late Wednesday night, ATCEMS officials report they have responded to 72 calls with 80 people having ingested the synthetic drug. Police are still working to crack the K2 cases.



First responders in Austin are busy dealing with a huge increase in calls regarding synthetic marijuana. According to Austin-Travis County EMS, since 7 p.m. on August 24 it has responded to approximately 60 K2 incidents involving 69 patients.

ATCEMS says, at this point, they are treating the spike in synthetic marijuana cases as a mass casualty situation. 

That means first responders are staging two ambulances downtown so they are already nearby when calls come in. This is the first time since last September that first responders have seen a dramatic increase in calls regarding the use of synthetic marijuana.

First responders believes hot temperatures could be contributing to the dangerous reactions to the drug.

Medics are seeing many incidents involving patients who are experiencing seizures, unconsciousness, and uncontrollable combative behavior. "Utilizing these products, this is like playing a game of Russian roulette, you don't know what is in these products you don't know what you're ingesting or inhaling and so this could be a lethal combination," said Mike Benavides of ATCEMS. 

The Austin police Department says three people have been detained and questioned in connection with some of these synthetic marijuana cases. Depending on the outcome of their investigation, some or all of them could face charges.