Cabell County tops West Virginia overdose death totals in 2017

In 2017, Cabell County EMS crews revived addicts more than 1,800 times. (WCHS/WVAH)

Cabell County ambulances sat at the E.M.S. center Friday ready to head to the next overdose with responders hoping they get there in time to save a life.

Last year they revived addicts more than 1,800 times.

"Those are the ones in which we've resuscitated,” E.M.S. Director Gordon Merry said, “we made a difference so that these people could get help."

152 people weren't so lucky and succumbed to some kind of drug overdose in 2017.

At Recovery Point of Huntington, Kenny Sergent said he knew several of those victims.

Sergent said, since the opiate epidemic kicked into high gear four years ago, he's lost between 20 to 30 friends.

So many, they became commonplace.

"It don't hurt my feelings because it happens all the time,” Sergent said, “it's not no big deal. Just people dying."

Just people dying, he said, including his best friend three years ago.

"If I started thinking about it then, you know, soon as I get over that then another one goes," he said.

724 people died from overdoses across West Virginia last year mostly from fentanyl O.D.

Those numbers will likely go up because December hadn't been tallied and two months worth of deaths are still pending toxicology reports for confirmation.

In Cabell County, Merry said there is a ray of hope.

"I won't say I'm confident,” Merry said, “very optimistic."

He said overdoses dropped by more than 130 in the last quarter of the year hopefully signaling a downturn.

Sergent said to continue the drop and avoid more deaths people need to turn to recovery.

"I used to stand there on the corner and say I'll never be in that place,” he said, “but here I am today. It saved my life."

Merry said he doesn't know why the numbers are dropping, but, whether it's the quick response team, law enforcement, recovery, or all of them, they need to find out what it is and keep it up.

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