New London

New London Responders, Leaders, Providers Work to Tackle K2 Problem Together

New London leaders at the forefront of response and care came together at the fire department Thursday to tackle the city’s synthetic marijuana overdose problem from all angles.

The New London Fire Department is seeing about 10 repeat K2 offenders, said Battalion Chief Tom Curcio. To the point where firefighters get two to four calls a day for the same person, taxing resources.

“It’s frustrating for us because we’ll transport someone to the hospital and within an hour or two they’re back on the street doing it again. It just ties our crews up,” Curcio said.

It’s one of the things Thursday’s group of about 20 people – comprised of first responders, city representative, Lawrence + Memorial Hospital, the Homeless Hospitality Center, among others – are working to fix.

Curcio said the department puts five to six firefighters on calls because people on K2 can get violent. Plus firefighters need accessibility to treatment resources nights and weekends.

Over the last few weeks, Curcio estimates between 30 and 40 K2-related calls.

Many users are homeless, according to first responders.

Cathy Zall, with the New London Homeless Hospitality Center, is taking that as an opportunity to tap into why people are using and connect them with resources to get them off the streets. Including a new, more intensive, housing support program.

“If they weren’t sitting with us at the hospitality center, where would they be,” Zall said.

City representatives said they’ve seen people coming in from outside communities and using.

“We’ll be holding conversations with other communities to see about sharing some responsibility for helping people,” said Jeanne Milstein, New London’s director of human services.

Other future steps include having a real-time list of users and better utilizing the mobile outreach team.

All of the groups who met Thursday will continue to touch base.

People who live in New London said the spots police have raided before are still areas officers need to keep an eye on.

“I have lost a few of my friends due to them smoking the K2 and driving. And not being able to be themselves. Starting problems,” said a New London resident who wished to remain anonymous.

He said stores in New London are still selling K2 under the table.

Dawn Wooldridge works in an area prone to several K2 overdoses and has seen people dealing K2 from her window.

“Some drug deals going on. Taking over the parking lot,” Wooldridge said.

NBC Connecticut will continue to stay on top of this developing story of K2 overdoses in the New London area.

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