• John McGary, Woodford Sun Staff

Police, EMS crews respond to apparent ODs at McDonald's

Two men believed to have overdosed were found passed out in a car in the McDonald's parking lot around 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 25, according to Versailles Police Department (VPD) Lt. Michael Fortney. "Officers and EMS (Emergency Medical Service) personnel arrived. They determined that they were under some sort of influence, possibly overdosed. They (EMS workers) administered Narcan to both subjects and then they came back to (consciousness)," Fortney said. Narcan is the brand name of the drug Nalaxone that can reverse the effects of opiates. The men were then taken by the EMS crew to a local hospital, Fortney said. Fortney said people suspected of overdosing are encouraged - but not required - to go to a hospital. "Basically, you're lifeless and you're being brought back. . They can check themselves out against medical advice if they want to do so ." Fortney said. The two apparent overdose victims at McDonald's and a person found passed out on Macey Avenue Friday afternoon were not charged in the cases, Fortney said. In the latter case, a caller reported an intoxicated man walking up the street. When police arrived, he was found face-down in a yard. Kentucky's "Good Samaritan" law, part of a broader anti-heroin bill passed by the General Assembly in 2015, keeps overdose victims and those who report an overdose and aren't found with illegal drugs from being charged. It's designed to encourage people who may themselves be illegal drug-users or don't want the OD victims to be arrested to call for help when they see an overdose. The Good Samaritan Law has been criticized by some prosecutors, including Kenton Commonwealth's Attorney Rob Sanders. Sanders told WFPL-FM last year, "What's more alarming is that the immunity then extends to the person using heroin even though the person that called never needed, wanted or asked for immunity." Sanders said giving immunity to overdose victims has the effect of sending them back into the community without treatment. "Once the hospital staff clears them - OK you're not going to die now - there's no way to force them into treatment and for that matter even if they want treatment, there's no way to fund treatment because they're not facing criminal charges," Sanders said. "Our primary concern at the time is their medical (condition). Obviously, there are steps we take during an investigation that I really can't give out ." Fortney said. The Versailles Police Department is part of a 14th Judicial Circuit anti-narcotic task force formed to take aim at what experts say is a heroin epidemic worsened with the introduction of Fentanyl, a powerful narcotic. The task force includes a partnership with the U.S. Attorney's office in Lexington, Fortney said, and the relationship led to the arrests of two men charged in the July 2015 overdose death of Versailles day care worker Jolene Bowman. "You don't want to go after the user. You want to go after source of supply, because when you're dealing with users, most of the time they're not going to tell you who their source of supply is, so we try to use our investigative resources to go after sources of supply so that we can take that source . out and maybe that will help with any future overdoses that we have. Because it is getting more and more common," Fortney said. Fortney said police discourage use of all illegal drugs, but particularly heroin, users of which don't usually know the source or strength of the drug or whether it's laced with Fentanyl. "The potency (of Fentanyl) is just phenomenal, and you've got people who are not used to heroin or maybe are new to using heroin . they're overdosing," Fortney said. "It's sad. It's a sad way of life." Fortney said a VPD officer is assigned to the anti-narcotic task force. "We are trying to do the best we can with this ." he said. Many experts say the heroin epidemic dates back to the "Pill Mill" law passed in 2012 that took aim at doctors and clinics that overprescribe pain medication and other drugs. "You have a lot of initiatives that attack certain problems, and they're great, that's what they're there for. But as with anything else, you attack a certain problem, another one's going to pop up," Fortney said.

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