HENDERSON, Ky. (WEHT) – Less than two weeks into 2023, and fentanyl overdoses in Henderson are on pace to reach never before seen levels. City and county leaders are uniting with what they’re calling an “all hands on deck” approach to battle the crisis.
“This is our number one focus right now,” says Henderson Police Chief Sean McKinney.
It is a bad problem that is only getting worse. In Henderson County, there have been 14 overdoses and 4 deaths just in the first 13 days of 2023, compared to a total of 17 fentanyl-related deaths in all of 2022.
“Fentanyl is killing our kids, fentanyl is killing our parents, fentanyl is killing our people of all ages here in Henderson, Kentucky,” says Henderson Mayor Brad Staton.
What is the reason for this spike in overdoses? Chief McKinney says inconsistent amounts of fentanyl in drugs, as well as possible groups of dealers in the county, are to blame. McKinney and Mayor Staton are making the fight against fentanyl priority one, with the Henderson County Drug Task Force staff doubling from 2 to 4.
“We have leaders installed throughout this community,” says Mayor Staton, “and citizens throughout this community, who will not stand idly by while there is a threat that is killing our people.”
Officials plan to fight the rise in overdoses by fully prosecuting dealers, educating local student and partnering with treatment facilities, including BrightView Health, who is seeing an increase in patients.
“People are reaching out to their friends, people that they have been using with, people that they care about to get more people in here,” explains BrightView Clinical Supervisor Jacob Wright.
Henderson County Attorney Steve Gold urges residents to encourage users they may know to seek treatment, and learn how to use narcan to reverse the effects of an overdose. Gold also sends a stern message to fentanyl traffickers.
“Get out of Henderson County,” says Gold, “because we’re going to catch you. And when we do, we are going to put you away as long as we can.”