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JB Pritzker Visits AMT in Peoria, Touts Plan to Tackle Opioid Crisis

Cass Herrington
Peoria Public Radio

Paramedics in Peoria seemed relieved for the opportunity to talk openly about their experiences responding to overdose calls.

On Mon., the employees at Advanced Medical Transport also had the ear of Democratic gubernatorial candidate JB Pritzker, who was promoting his plan to combat the opioid crisis.

AMT Paramedic Brown told Pritzker that he’s seen the epidemic’s emotional toll on his co-workers and on the community.

“We constantly see this every day, and we have to not only have to deal with that, but with the loved ones as well. So far as the kids who call 911, who find out their parents have overdosed.”

Brown says he sometimes sees as many as five overdoses from opioids per 12-hour shift. He suggested expanding access of the life-saving drug Narcan to addicts and their family members.

AMT says it administered 777 doses of Narcan between Jan. and Nov. 2017. The majority of overdose victims are white men, between the ages of 20 and 40.

“This is about saving lives, and it means investing in the safety net, investing in those services across the state that have been so vastly underfunded, particularly when you have no budget.”

Pritzker blamed Gov. Bruce Rauner for underfunding social services, like mental health and rehabilitation providers, during during the two-year budget impasse.

AMT reports that between January and November, the company has seen 474 more overdoses than that period last year. That’s a 74-percent increase.