K2 continues to be a major issue in the Austin-metro area. Since May 29th, Austin-Travis County EMS has transported hundreds of people who needed medical treatment after ingesting the synthetic drug. First responders are hoping to tackle the problem by teaming up with other agencies.
Since July 16, 28 people have been transported to the hospital because they had bad reactions to K2. It's a growing epidemic emergency responders want to end.
Austin-Travis County EMS Captain Rick Rutledge says, "We've learned over time that this is not just an Austin problem. Not just a Texas problem but a national problem."
According to the CDC, in the last six months, more than 4,000 people across the country have had bad reactions to synthetic marijuana, more commonly referred to as K2.
Though it says on the package that it's not designed for human consumption, people looking for a cheap high still smoke it.
But through the years, Captain Rutledge says the chemical compound in K2 has changed. "No one can tell you in advance how you are going to react to it. No one can tell you in advance exactly what's in the compound or how much of it. So it's a Russian Roulette thing."
In Central Texas, Austin-Travis County EMS has been spread thing. It has transported nearly 500 patients who OD'd in less than two months. One man almost had a heart attack after smoking K2 recently.
Symptoms include agitation, seizures, brain damage, hallucinations and chest pains.
To tackle the growing problem, Austin-Travis County EMS wants to team up with the DEA and the county's Health and Human Services Department to make K2 cases reportable to the State Health Department. This would help first responders to get ahead of the problem.
Captain Rutledge says it would "help find out where the cases area, Who use K2? How it's getting here."
Austin-Travis County EMS says K2 victims are of all ages and economic backgrounds. There is currently no formal proposal between the agencies but Captain Rutledge says they are working on it.