Brian Kelly (@brpkelly)By Brian Kelly

ST. CHARLES COUNTY, Mo. (KMOX) – The heroin epidemic continues to grow in St. Charles County.

The St. Charles County Ambulance District reports it received 426 overdose calls last year. Spokesman Kyle Gaines says this year’s call are running close to 20 percent above that, which means the district will respond to over 500.

“It’s very real,” Gaines says. “It’s difficult to see this happening in any community, particularly your own.”

He says each of those 500 calls take a toll.

“These are emotionally difficult calls for the individuals who are suffering from addiction. They’re emotionally difficult for the family and friends who are on the scene with these folks.”

And while Gaines says that in most cases, paramedics will use at least one dose of the overdose reversal drug Naloxone, sometimes it’s too late.

Last year, 56 people died of opioid overdoses in the county. Some of them, he says, are victims paramedics had treated before.

“This gentleman (a paramedic) recounted a patient that he had run on a couple of times that, ultimately, the last time he ran on that patient there wasn’t anything that could be done.”

The rapid growth of overdoses has prompted the county to increase training and form the Substance Use Recovery Response Team, “which is designed to help individuals suffering from addiction to get into treatment, whether in our community or outside our community,” Gaines says.

The district has put together a video reenactment of a heroin overdose. Gaines cautions that parents may want to watch it first, before allowing children to see it:

The district is also taking part in a community awareness night at Hollenbeck Middle School. It runs from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday.

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