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Garnar Wants Better Accounting by County on Heroin Deaths

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Saying the heroin epidemic constitutes a public health crisis, Democratic Broome County Executive Candidate Jason Garnar wants to see the county do more to raise awareness of what he's calling a recent spike in heroin overdoses.

Garnar wants the county to better track both official and presumed heroin deaths. He also wants the county to better track use of the heroin antidote narcan. The Broome County Sheriff's Office says it's agency hasn't seen a spike in overdoses in the last month, though it's just one of a number of agencies that responds to calls. The Sheriff's Office also says deputies report to the county whenever they use Narcan.

But, the prevalence of the antidote means family, friends, or EMS may have already administered the drug before deputies reach the scene. The Sheriff's Office has started to include narcan use by others in it's reports.  

 "There's no whitewashing when you hear the scanner, when you talk to the mayor of Whitney Point and he talks about how three people have died from heroin overdoses in the last week. When I see friends on social media talking about how their friends have lost loved ones from overdoses, there's no whitewashing of this," said Garnar.
The Sheriff's Office says two unattended deaths in the last month may be overdoses, but toxicology reports aren't back yet. A July 22nd report by the County Health Department's Medical Director shows Broome County saw 31 overdose deaths in 2014, 30 overdose deaths in 2015 and 11 thus far in 2016. Broome County Executive Debbie Preston said in a statement, 

"Any death associated with this crisis is too many. Capturing and reporting data on this extremely serious and sensitive issue is a work in progress and developing an accurate and repeatable process is of upmost importance." She will hold a press conference on the issue Friday morning.