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Stark County, Ohio brings in portable morgue after overdose calls

The Stark County coroner's office had a difficult time keeping up last weekend with several deadly overdoses on top of their regular calls. (WCHS/WVAH)

The Stark County, Ohio coroner's office in Canton had a difficult time keeping up last weekend with several deadly overdoses on top of their regular calls.

The office had to request a portable morgue that can properly store up to 18 bodies to help with the response.

Cabell County EMS director Gordon Merry tells Eyewitness News a portable morgue is used in disastrous and fatal situations such as a mass shooting or a deadly storm.

"It's used in a situation with a mass casualty situation where you have a lot of diseased people," Gordon Merry said. "It is basically a large tractor trailer unit that is air conditioned to keep the bodies cold."

He said the thought of having one in our area has crossed his mind. However, while Huntington first responders see many overdoses; most of them are not fatal.

In 2016 Cabell County EMS responded to more than 1,200 overdose calls. Fewer than 100 of those calls were fatal.

"We've been lucky," Merry said. "We are good at reviving them. Unfortunately when someone is using alone no one is there to call 9-1-1. Those are usually the ones we find the next day diseased. We have about four to six minutes before someone stops breathing and they have irreversible brain damage. We normally get there very close to that time period."

Merry said if Cabell County needed a portable morgue they have the resources to get it here. The last time Huntington had a death toll needing this equipment was the 1970 Marshall University plane crash.

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