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Fentanyl-related deaths up in Travis County

Overall drug deaths are also up, officials said.

AUSTIN, Texas — Fentanyl-related deaths are on the rise in Travis County.

According the Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office, fatal overdoses were up from 107 in 2021 compared to 35 in 2020. Overall, accidental drug overdoses are also up with 293 in 2021 compared to 245 in 2020.

Austin-Travis County EMS (ATCEMS) said they are responding to many overdoses calls.

"On an average month, EMS will see 20-25 opioid overdoses. But the last several months with what we believe to be fentanyl in the street, sold pills on the street, what we are seeing is 40-60 overdoses in a month now," said Commander Blake Hardy.

Hardy is the commander of Community Health Team with ATCEMS. He said fentanyl is safe when it's administered by a medical provider and in a controlled medical quantity. But when people are getting it on the streets, it’s a different story.

"When fentanyl is mixed in street-made pills in an unregulated manner, fentanyl, it's extremely dangerous. It's about 100 times stronger than morphine. So, tiny bit extra in a street-made, unregulated manufacturer, can be deadly with a single pill," said Hardy.

Hardy said there are people taking fentanyl intentionally but the majority of their overdose calls happen when someone takes a drug laced with the powerful painkiller and, many times the patient didn't know.

Hardy said as part of the community health team, the work will help people who are addicted or overdosed on opioids and work to get them into treatment and the help they need.

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