We know heroin abuse is at epidemic levels. One local fire chief says they received at least five calls on Sunday, reports of people overdosing on heroin or some other powerful drug. Narcan overdose kits were used to save the victims. But some are questioning whether there needs to be another strategy for fighting this killer drug epidemic.
Pekin Emergency response personnel says there were five calls like this on Sunday one where medical crews responded to people who had overdosed on heroin or some other type of drug.
"That's not unusual for us because we'll respond to opioid overdoses anywhere from several times a week to several times in a day," said Advanced Medical Transport Community Affairs Manager Josh Bradshaw.
Pekin police were able to use the Narcan overdose kits to stop the victims from dying.
"We implemented the program in September of last year and we've had five saves from officers," said Pekin Police Department spokesperson Billie Ingles.
Officer Ingles says Pekin is no different from any other community when it comes to heroin or other drug addiction
Advanced Medical Transport has a Narcan usage report that shows the number of overdoses only seems to be growing.
This year from January to March paramedics have used Narcan 135 times in Peoria and 19 times in Pekin .
Last year they used Narcan 794 times in Peoria and 160 times in Pekin.
The year before it was used 802 times in Peoria and 218 in Pekin and in
2014 paramedics used Narcan 670 times in Peoria and 159 in Pekin.
One local doctor says the strategy for fighting the heroin opioid epidemic needs to shift to treatment.
"A lot of people don't see it as a good way to spend money, but when you look at the dollars spent you can get somebody treated for one dollar it'll take seven dollar to pursue incarceration, so we'd much rather help them before it gets to that level," she said.
Dr Olt says with not enough treatment facilities she believes the heroin epidemic will only get worse.