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Deschutes County Declares Fentanyl Emergency

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioners declared a 90-day state of emergency Wednesday for the fentanyl epidemic, so government funds and resources could be directed to the county.

Commissioner Tony Debone says it’s time for action, “We've got other police agencies; we've got other city councils and the citizens themselves. We all need to understand this is a crisis at this point in time.”

Chair Patti Adair told KBND News this week she wants to get the attention of state lawmakers.  Commissioner Phil Chang abstained from yesterday's vote, saying he agrees there is a drug crisis but this declaration doesn’t do enough, “Typically, emergency declarations are done so that you can deploy more resources, you know, to undertake new initiatives, not necessarily for legislative advocacy.”

Commissioners heard from the Central Oregon Drug Enforcement Team's Kent Vander Camp, “Since I've been on the team, I can tell you that fentanyl continues to be the monster that grows every day. Since I've been on the team. It's probably up 2 to 300% from when I first started on the team seven years ago as a detective.”

“I'll tell you last night [Tuesday], Bend police had three nearly simultaneous overdose emergencies which put a huge tax on both our fire and EMS, as well as law enforcement, and hospital staff, for that matter,” Vander Kamp stated.

Commissioner Tony Debone joined chair Patti Adair in voting for it. “Commissioner Chang mentioned ‘what's the county going to do?’ But, I would reverse that and say we need to acknowledge this as a community, look out for each other and, you know, put pressure on this activity that's so detrimental to our community,” DeBone said.

Chair Adair called for the state of emergency after Multnomah County, Portland and the Governor declared a tri-government emergency in downtown Portland last week.

The commissioners received a letter of support from the City of Redmond for the declaration, and further testimony from the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office.

The county provided the following facts in a press release: Overdose deaths increased by 100% between 2018 (six deaths) and 2022 (twelve deaths) in Deschutes County. In early January, Deschutes County Health Services identified four overdose fatalities within a six-day period that appeared to be linked to the use of fentanyl and in combination with other substances. Deschutes County Health Services distributes and provides training for Naloxone, a medication that can reverse an overdose from opioids, including fentanyl, when given in time.?

In 2022, more than 100 lives in Deschutes County were saved by residents who administered Naloxone to someone experiencing overdose. More than 95 percent of those resident bystanders (including friends, family members and strangers) provided either rescue breathing or CPR as part of their response to an overdose.

Photo: Fentanyl Pills and Paraphenila from December 2023 Redmond Bust

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