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Archive for July, 2011

The latest drug trends across America

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

In June, I had the chance to attend a conference in Seattle of some of the smartest minds in America when it comes to monitoring drug abuse. While each gave a presentation about cities and areas across the nation, I found particularly interesting just one sheet of paper that they passed around.

Across the top of the page, various drugs — cocaine, heroin, other opiates, meth, marijuana and synthetics — were listed. In each column below, each expert from the cities and areas listed the current trends — up, down, or otherwise — for each drug.

Please take a look at the page. But I’ll also provide a short synopsis of my own interpretation of it, as discussed at the Community Epidemiology Work Group in Seattle June 8-10.

Cocaine: Clearly down across the country. Its high price, even during the recession, has made it rather cost prohibitive for users, various epidemiologists pointed out at the meeting. There were a few exceptions: New York City and “vacationland” Maine, two of the richest areas of the country.

Heroin: Results were mixed but some areas have experienced a surge, including our own, which is denoted with “young adult,” being part of the trend. Readers of our paper will no doubt already know that heroin has experienced a huge resurgence here.

Other opiates: Wow. The country is clearly grappling with prescription pill addiction.

Meth: This one may surprise you. Though so much attention is given to this particularly dirty drug, most areas reported its use is stable or decreasing. So-called “precursor” laws have obviously had an impact in keeping meth’s key ingredient, pseudoephedrine, out of the hands that would cook it themselves. But more complex drug enterprises appear to have made up for that lack of mom-and-pop meth shops.

Marijuana: The results from the group were pretty clear. Marijuana continues to grow in use and abuse, achieving the “high” label amongst many of the epidemiologists present. The growing number of people who believe it should be legalized, or at least recognized as having medical benefits, continues to push the upward trend.

Synthetics: The group either needed more time to investigate or found that synthetics, be it PCP or MDMA, were on the rise.

Notice alcohol, not an illicit drug is not on the list. Yet this drug, above all others, is more abused than any other.

Note: The circling of some notes in the heroin column are mine, as I attended the conference when it was the main topic of conversation. Otherwise, it is each expert’s notes.


Suquamish police can give your heart a restart (if necessary)

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

The Suquamish Police Department was the first law enforcement agency in Kitsap County to outfit its force with video cameras in patrol cars. These days, they’re the first to have another tool in each officer’s vehicle: an Automatic External Defibrillator, or AED.

AEDs, which can help restart the heart muscle, are by all accounts wonderful pieces of technology, but they are pricey at around $1,000 per unit. Suquamish PD got them using a federal grant available to tribal police departments.

Will the rest of the county’s agencies join in? I polled other agencies and the answer was no.

Port Orchard: “We have one in city hall,” said Port Orchard Police Chief Al Townsend. “That’s about it.”

But Kitsap County Sheriff’s Spokesman Scott Wilson notes that more AEDs are on the way to the county, even if they’re not in patrol cars:

“The sheriff’s office has obtained grant money administered through the Department of Homeland Security (Region 2),” Wilson wrote me in an email. “These are funds dedicated, for all Kitsap County law enforcement agencies, for the purchase and deployment of AEDs.”

“The AEDs will be placed in / on:

  • All law enforcement buildings / offices (that need them)
  • Select law enforcement vehicles, such as the RV mobile command post, the SWAT team vehicle, BPD major crimes unit vehicle, etc.
  • All marine patrol boats (every agency that has them).

“All told, there should be about 30 AEDs purchased and deployed,” Wilson wrote.

Here’s the rest of the press release from the Suquamish Police Department, including some facts about cardiac arrest:

The Suquamish Police Department is pleased to announce that all officers have been issued Automatic External Defibrillators.  The Phillips “Heartstart” AED’s were purchased using a Department of Justice Tribal Resources Grant Program.

AED’s have proven to be a valuable tool for saving lives.  While we have outstanding Fire and Medical response in North Kitsap County, there are some locations and circumstances where Law Enforcement officers are closer to the scene of a sudden cardiac arrest, and can arrive minutes earlier.  Our officers have been trained in the use of AED’s for years, but we were finally able to obtain funding to equip every police officer with an AED for their car.

The model that our department purchased will work on both adults and children.

This new equipment will allow us to better serve all of the 7000+ residents who live on the Port Madison reservation.  We are particularly interested in protecting our community elders, and keeping their knowledge and wisdom with us for many years to come.

Some facts about Sudden Cardiac Arrest:

  • More people die from SCA than from breast cancer, prostate cancer, AIDS, house fires, handguns and traffic accidents combined.
  • Nearly 80 percent of all cardiac arrests occur in the home; the majority are witnessed by someone who could potentially be a lifesaver.
  • The underlying cause of SCA is not well understood. Many victims have no previously reported history of heart disease, or if heart disease is present, it has not functionally impaired them.
  • 50 percent of men and 63 percent of women who died from SCA had not previously reported symptoms of heart disease.
  • SCA strikes both men and women. The average age of victims is 65; however, many of those who experience SCA are much younger—many in their 30s and 40s.
  • Defibrillation is recognized as the definitive treatment for ventricular fibrillation, the abnormal heart rhythm most often associated with SCA. While CPR may help prolong the window of survival, it cannot restore a normal cardiac rhythm.
  • For every minute that goes by without defibrillation, a cardiac arrest victim’s chances of survival decrease by about 10 percent. After 10 minutes without defibrillation, few attempts at resuscitation are successful.
  • SCA survivors have a good long-term prognosis: 80 percent of survivors are alive after one year and 57 percent after five years.
  • The average National response time for emergency medical services in a typical community is nine minutes.
  • Presently, the national SCA survival rate in the United States is less than five percent.
  • The American Heart Association estimates that 40,000 more lives could be saved annually in the U.S. alone if automated external defibrillators (AEDs) were more widely available and could reach victims more quickly.

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