IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

'Outbreak' of opioid overdoses in Austin, Texas, linked to 8 deaths and over 50 emergency calls

Authorities said they started receiving an increase in opioid calls around 9 a.m. Monday. Two persons of interest have been detained.
Get more newsLiveon

Police in Austin, Texas, said they responded to an "outbreak" of over 50 opioid-related overdose calls from Monday to Tuesday morning that has been linked to as many as eight deaths.

Authorities said they started receiving an increase in opioid calls around 9 a.m. Monday. It was concentrated in the downtown area but spread throughout the city, said Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services Assistant Chief Steve White.

EMS usually gets an average of two to three calls a day, White said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon. During the surge, authorities responded to about 51 calls, he said.

The overdose patients are in their 20s to their 50s, White said.

"We have not experienced overdoses of this volume since 2015,when K2 struck our community," he said, referring to synthetic marijuana that resulted in mass overdoses.

Eric Fitzgerald, Austin's assistant police chief, said it is "apparent that there is a deadly batch of illicit narcotics in our community."

In one 911 call, a man said about 15 people may have "smoked something that was bad" and described giving a woman two doses of Narcan.

"She looks like she might be coming back, but I don't know," he told the dispatcher.

In a separate 911 call, a man said an unconscious woman was given one dose of Narcan.

“Is she getting better now?" the 911 operator responded. 

"No," the caller said. "She’s still not responded."

Paramedics distributed over 267 doses of Narcan, an opioid overdose reversal drug. Heidi Abraham, Austin's deputy medical director, said at a news conference Monday that Narcan was the reason "some of these people are alive today."

White said that four of the patients police responded to died from suspected overdoses. The Travis County medical examiner said he is involved in eight deaths that "are suspicious for a drug overdose."

Police are still investigating the overdoses and said they detained two persons of interest. One of them was charged with felony possession of a firearm.

Further investigation is needed for additional charges, Fitzgerald said.