Dallas police and firefighters say there has been a dramatic increase in the number of K2-related overdose calls, stressing already thin resources.
The new Dallas police chief and city council members got a snapshot on Monday of how bad the problem has become in the city.
The Public Safety Committee was told the man-made, mind-altering chemicals are not safe. They're unpredictable and life threatening. And since July of 2016, there has been a 177 percent spike in K2-related calls for assistance.
Brett Lincoln says he came face to face with the K2 problem last Thursday outside the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, where a woman appeared to be in trouble.
"I wasn't really sure what was going on,” he recalled. “And by the time she made it close to the parking lot, she completely collapsed and she was face down unresponsive.”
Lincoln reported it to 911, adding to the staggering increase in K2 calls this year.
Dallas Fire-Rescue says there were 98 calls for all of 2016. In the first six months of this year, that total is already 271.
911 callers report medical problems ranging from seizures to psychotic behavior and unconsciousness.
"It's a commitment of resources that we would otherwise like to have available,” said Dallas Fire-Rescue Asst. Chief Daniel Salazar.
First responders say it's not unusual to respond to more than a dozen cases.
"There's a lot of different substances that are used, some are fast action. They get people high, and they are back to normal,” Salazar explained. “Sometimes, we have to make multiple calls to the same person on the same shift."
"It has ruined the West End,” said Dallas Mayor Pro-Tem Dwaine Caraway. “It has ruined downtown at the Greyhound bus station. It has ruined the DART rail."
Last year, police say 228 people were arrested city-wide for possessing K2. The majority of K2 calls come from Central and South Central Dallas, which is one reason why the mayor pro-tem is determined to get a handle on the problem.
In 2010, the city council banned the sale and possession of K2, but manufacturers just changed the chemical makeup to get by the law.
Police and fire officials say the increase in K2 calls drain valuable resources and put others at risk.