Drug overdose deaths in Waukesha Co. continue to rise
We've reached a new barometer in the heroin epidemic: the Waukesha County Sheriff's Department reports in that county, as many people die from drugs as they do from car crashes.
"We see these people when we get called and they essentially have one foot in the grave. They are just about dead," said Dennis Graff with the Waukesha County Fire Department.
The first responders who answer the calls are now the ones sounding the alarms. Last year, Waukesha city ambulances treated nearly 70 patients for opiate overdoses.
"It's sad that we see it's a population 16-to-40 years old," Graff said. "People who have a lot of potential in their life."
This emergency extends well beyond the city limits. In Waukesha County, investigators report heroin killed at least 36 people last year. That's about as many deaths as there were on the roads.
"You're going to do anything to fill your need and your family will suffer greatly from this," said Frank McElderry, with the Waukesha County Drug Unit.
The big takeaways - heroin is no longer the dirty drug. Users inject it, sniff it, snort it or smoke it. The average user is 22 years old.
"Who is a heroin user?" McElderry asked. "You look left and right. It's not the back alley hold the bag person. It can be any one of us, even professionals."