A scary and chaotic day in New Haven Wednesday left 76 people overdosing on K2, otherwise known as synthetic marijuana.
Fire Department first responders were handling so many calls that they were experiencing "compassionate-care fatigue" and had to be rotated off the engine companies, said New Haven Fire Chief John Alston.
Although there were no deaths, two individuals were considered to be in serious, life-threatening condition.
Police arrested a local man on Wednesday that they believe may be connected to the drug overdoses in New Haven, according to a news release.
An additional three people overdosed at the park Tuesday night (Aug. 14).
Another 5 people refused medical attention and were not in enough distress to be transported for treatment, he said.
The alert also reminds people of the symptoms of overdoses: The person won't wake up; has blue lips or fingernails; has clammy, cool skin; shallow, slow breathing or is suffering from seizures, the EMS office said.
Alston said drug overdoses in New Haven, as in other cities, are at epidemic proportions and that the city is in the grip of a public health crisis.
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On Thursday morning, New Haven Director of Emergency Management Rick Fontana told WTNH-TV that a K2 sample it tested was negative for the presence of fentanyl.
Police respond to the scene of multiple overdoses at a Connecticut-area park on Wed., Aug. 15, 2018.
"Do not come down to the Green and purchase this K2", Police Chief Anthony Campbell said. He said the Green has become "a place of despair" and "no longer an attraction for families or economic development". Three of the people who overdosed died after taking cocaine that had been laced with fentanyl, over a dozen others were hospitalized. "Don't put your life in harm".
Officials were testing the blood of victims to determine what exactly triggered their symptoms.
They can be anywhere from 2 to 100 times more potent than THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, researchers have said.
Fontana added that a commonly used anti-opioid-overdose drug did not seem to help when given in the park, although benefits were seen when it was given in a higher dose in the hospital.
Synthetic cannabis, often sold under names such as spice or K2, is usually made from plant material sprayed with chemicals that mimic the high from real cannabis.
K2 is a synthetic cannabinoid related to marijuana that is frequently laced with other drugs, said Dr. So far, there have been few scientific studies of the effects of synthetic cannabinoids on the human brain, but researchers do know that some of them bind more strongly than marijuana to the cell receptors affected by THC, and can produce much stronger effects.
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After dozens of overdoses occurred, first responders set up a command post at the historic New Haven Green park in downtown. The patients were taken to area hospitals for overdose-related respiratory illnesses, Officer David Hartman said.
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