Pittsburgh paramedics are seeing more work than ever as the region is experiencing unprecedented levels of heroin use and opioid abuse, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “There’s not a week that goes by that we don’t wake up one heroin overdose,” and oftentimes more, said one. “And it could be in any part of the city. There are no [boundary] lines for heroin.” The suburbs are likewise experiencing an explosion of heroin use.
Bryan Kircher of Ross/West View Emergency Medical Services, said that in the 26 years he’s been a medic, he’s never seen such frequency of heroin overdoses — his service responds to as many as 16 cases a month. He sees it affecting all socioeconomic groups and all ages, from teens to those in their 50s and even their 60s. The regional problem is part of a national one. According to the Drug Abuse Warning Network, ER visits involving heroin jumped from 187,493 in 2005 to 213,118 in 2009. “We’ve always had a baseline community of opiate users in Pittsburgh, but it seems to have exploded in the past decade,” said Dr. Richard Sullivan of Jefferson Regional Medical Center.