ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – It’s not as bad as last November when more than two dozen people a day were overdosing from synthetic marijuana downtown — but the problem continues to be a daily strain on the department.

St. Louis Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson says his crews continue to treat about a dozen drug overdose victims a day — most of them non-fatal K-2 cases among the downtown homeless.

Running an ambulance and fire truck every day costs money, he says, along with the costs of time at the hospital, drugs to help the overdose victims, gasoline, maintenance and manpower.

“It puts a strain on the day-to-day activities of the guys and the women who work in EMS and fire; it wears on you after a while,” Jenkerson says. “Especially when you see the same two or three people over and over.”

The fire chief says five or six people will overdose because they share the product; “that ties up my ability to respond to other urgent matters, not that these aren’t urgent – these people could die from this – but it’s continual, and we can’t get them to stop using the product.”

Last fall, Jenkerson estimated each K-2 patient cost the department about $600. Or at least, that’s what he says they would be charged, if he could bill them.

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