Tools

First responders fill local fire department to learn more on "Bath Salts"

By LEXIE O'CONNOR

MARCY, N.Y. (WKTV) - Hundreds of first responders from different areas, different disciplines filled the Maynard Fire Department Tuesday night to learn about the best ways to handle patients high on bath salts.

The new synthetic drugs are bringing scary situations for those first on the scene, situations many first responders aren't prepared for.

"There's a high degree of anxiety particularly with EMS first responders because we don't have the tools to protect ourselves," said Maynard Fire Department's EMS Director Steve Buda. "Law enforcement has the tools to defend themselves, we have to turn around and get out and stay safe ourselves."

While Maynard Fire Department has only handled one bath salts incident, TeamHealth Regional Medical Director Dr. Timothy Page said that throughout the Mohawk Valley hospitals are treating 5 to 7 patients on the drugs a day.

"Seeing patients that are in danger to themselves, hurting themselves, hurting, the first responders, hurting the police, hurting the staff in the emergency department, some patients are dieing... seeing I think it's a fair statement: ugliness," said Dr. Page.

Dr. Page says in addition to hallucinations, agitation and paranoia, the new drugs are bringing high temperatures, kidney failure, even death to some patients.

Clinical Toxicologist of Upstate Poison Control Center Dr. Alexander Garrard explained that the drugs are dangerous because patients often don't know what they're getting.

"I always call it chemical Russian Roulette," says Dr. Garrard. "For one you don't know what you're buying even though let's say you may have bought the "Ivory Wave" last month and didn't have a problem, the batch of "Ivory Wave" that you buy this month may be completely different."

Dr. Garrard sending the message to first responders Tuesday night to protect the bath salts patients and also themselves.

"These are patients that could honestly probably kill a first responder," said Dr. Garrard. "Only because they have the strength of like ten men these are patients that require 6 or 7 security guards to hold them down, super human strength."

Toxicologists, law enforcement, and the health community agree they're all still learning about the new drugs and that education like Tuesday night's is the way to combat them.

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