More than 70 people overdose in a single day in New Haven


A drug dealer has been arrested after 76 people overdosed in the space of 24 hours in CT, as national figures showed drug-related deaths had hit a record high.

The majority of people overdosed on suspected synthetic marijuana at the CT city park and another two people nearby fell ill with similar symptoms around 8 a.m. Wednesday morning, officials said. More than 70 people fell ill from suspected drug overdoses on the green and were taken to local hospitals.

Alston said initial reports indicate people overdosed on K2, a synthetic marijuana that contains a variety of chemicals and has been linked to prior large-scale overdoses.

Fire Department first responders were handling so many calls that they were experiencing "compassionate-care fatigue" and had to be rotated off the engine companies, said New Haven Fire Chief John Alston. The police chief says they firmly believe the person in custody is responsible for at least some of the overdoses.

No deaths were reported, but officials on Wednesday said two people had suffered life-threatening symptoms. "It is taking people out very quickly, people having respiratory failure".

Gov. Dannel Malloy said Wednesday that the state Department of Public Health and the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services were assisting New Haven with the rash of overdoses.

Paramedics sprinted from patient to patient in a park overlooked by Yale University buildings as users began to show symptoms including vomiting, hallucination and unconsciousness.

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So far, no deaths have been reported.

The city mounted a mass-casualty response, including fire, police, ambulances, emergency management, city health department and Yale-New Haven Hospital personnel, said Rick Fontana, emergency management director.

"Yesterday was extremely, extremely busy, something we haven't seen in quite some time, a lot of people dropping all at the same time", Fontana said. 'Narcan was not effective here at the scene, ' said Alston.

Police reportedly made one arrest Wednesday, though the charges were not clear.

A total of 71 people were rushed to various hospitals suffering from apparent overdoses.

A similar, but smaller overdose incident, played out on the Green on July 4, when more than a dozen people became sick from synthetic marijuana, according to the Associated Press.

At first, the drug Nalaxone - used to treat narcotic overdoses - appeared not to work. "Every agency - police, fire, medical, hospitals - all are strained at this time".