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In southern NH, overdose numbers vary widely

Union Leader Correspondent

August 08. 2018 11:17PM

DERRY — Overdose statistics from a range of southern New Hampshire towns show a mix of downward trends, plateaus and spikes.

Salem saw a significant spike this summer, with 20 overdoses recorded in June (compared to nine in June 2017), according to Salem Fire EMS coordinator Jared Whalen. So far, Salem has had 87 overdoses this year through July, compared to 55 by the same time last year.

Derry, conversely, has seen a steady decrease in overdoses this year compared to last. Chuck Hemeon, Derry’s EMS director, said there have been 39 overdoses in town from January through July.

That appears on track with last year’s total of 74 overdoses, but January had more than usual.

“We had an anomaly in January with 17,” Hemeon said.

The numbers are down significantly from 2016, which saw a total of 92 overdoses.

Overdoses in Derry in July continue to fall over the past three years, with just two last month compared to nine in 2017 and 11 in 2016.

In Londonderry, Battalion Chief Mike McQuillen said there were five overdoses in July. He said overdoses in town peaked at 39 in 2016 and dropped to 30 in 2017. This year, however, overdoses are projected to exceed last year, with 25 reported through July.

Hemeon believes Derry is heading in the right direction overall and he credits the fire department’s efforts to distribute 500 Naloxone kits since 2016 and host monthly community trainings on how to administer the life-saving drug.

“Our proactive approach, I think, has had an impact,” Hemeon said.

There have been seven overdose deaths in Derry so far this year. Last year, there were 13, Hemeon said.

Salem has tracked four overdose deaths so far.

Communities track overdoses differently so the data isn’t always comparable.

Last year, Salem saw 106 total overdose calls. That was a decrease from 2016, which reached a record 127 calls. But calls to date this year are on track to reverse some of those gains.

“We thought we had seen a plateau, but maybe we haven’t,” Whalen said after reviewing the statistics.

Pelham Fire Department Deputy Chief Paul Leischner said that “unfortunately” the overdose numbers in his town are holding steady compared to last year.

There have been 13 overdoses in Pelham to date compared to 14 by this time last year. There were a total of 22 overdoses in town in 2017. Naloxone use by EMS personnel is also on par with last year.

Windham Fire Chief Thomas McPherson Jr. said he didn’t have specific overdose numbers available but believes the town has seen just about the same as last year.

Health Public Safety Derry East Derry Londonderry North Salem Pelham Salem Windham

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