Is fentanyl increase serious or sensationalized?

Local police departments discuss fentanyl-related deaths, Narcan supply in Pullman



Pullman Police Officer Doug Anderson holds a box of Narcan, a nasal spray used for people who have overdosed on drugs, Nov. 2nd.

JULIA MESSEGEE, Evergreen reporter

Two fentanyl-related deaths and 11 cases of overdosage have occurred in Pullman this year. The drug has received significant attention from the media and local police departments as Halloween concludes. 

The Pullman Police Department, along with Emergency Medical Services and a coroner, responded to an unconscious person on Northwest Turner Drive on Aug. 29, according to the Pullman PD log. Another fentanyl-related death occurred on Feb. 7 on Northeast Merman Drive. 

The most recent overdosage report, which did not result in death, happened on Sept. 13 on Northwest Fisk Street, according to the log.  

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that can cause a decrease in oxygen to the brain if an individual overdoses. 

Pullman PD arrested one person in possession of hundreds of fentanyl pills, who admitted to trafficking on Sept. 1. The person was one of two arrested in Pullman after stealing a car from Rosalia, said Aaron Breshears, Pullman Police Department Operations Cmdr. 

“We seized hundreds of pills from that person. And that’s just one, so we’re only catching a very small percentage of the pills.” 

Dawn Daniels, WSU Police Department assistant chief, said she has not heard of any recent cases on the WSU campus. WSU PD just wants to make students aware of cases, which appear to be rising in areas such as Spokane and Coeur d’Alene. Daniels is not aware of any overdose cases on campus over Halloween weekend. 

Skittles packaging has not been found in Pullman, Breshears said.   

Fentanyl’s appearance may seem harmless, but it is quite the opposite. Naloxone, usually referred to as Narcan, is a possible life-saving medication in relation to opioids, which WSU PD carries, according to the news release.  

“I’m not a doctor, but from the training that we’ve received, it is able to block the receptors within the brain that the, you know, heroine or fentanyl would affect, and it prevents it from having its effect,” Breshears said. 

Narcan is placed in an individual’s nose and sprayed to reverse the effects of opioids. WSU PD has not used it so far, Daniels said.  

While Pullman PD has administered Narcan 11 times within the past 20 months, Breshears wrote in an email.  

“I have personally administered it one time, but I’ve been present when other officers have administered it quite a few times,” Breshears said.  

He said Pullman PD carries Narcan in all its cars in case officers are affected by fentanyl, whether they unintentionally inhale it or touch it and need serious medical attention.  

Narcan is also available at Cougar Health Services, according to a WSU Insider article. 

WSU PD used to receive funding from the Opioid State Targeted Response program, which was founded in 2017 and provided $35,000, according to a Washington State Department of Social & Health Services report.  

Now, it pays for Narcan out-of-pocket, which varies depending on the supply amount, Daniels said.  

She said WSU PD encourages people to administer Narcan and call 911 if they suspect an opioid overdose. While fentanyl is prohibited at WSU, seeking help in emergencies will not result in punishment, according to the news release. 

People who take fentanyl will experience changed skin color to blue or green, little to no breathing, sweating or possess needle marks, Breshears said.  

To make sure residents are safe, Daniels provided a clear, concise suggestion. 

“Don’t do it,” she said.