Kern County Sheriff and Coroner say overdose deaths have been on the rise since pandemic began


A recent drug seizure of KCSO included marijuana, methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia. | KCSO

Kern County is not immune to a recent wave of statewide drug overdoses, according to a spokesperson for the Kern County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO).

Last month, the CDC reported that there were 6,000 deaths last year and around 10,000 in 2021 – a 43% increase.

Danielle Kernkamp, ​​chief information officer at the Kern County Sheriff’s Office, told the Sun of the Kern Valley that county statistics had shown there had been an increase in overdoses since the start of the pandemic.

Statistics provided by the Kern County Coroner’s Office show that from March 1, 2019 to March 1, 2020, there were 298 deaths and from March 1, 2020 to March 1, 2021, there were 392 deaths, Kernkamp said.

Kernkamp added that all MPs receive initial training when they start their careers with KCSO.

“This training includes drug recognition, how to minimize exposure, the use of appropriate protective equipment like gloves, goggles, masks when needed, etc.” she declared. “Members of Parliament receive continuous training throughout their careers.

Kernkamp said opioids are one of the most common drugs on the streets, so all law enforcement personnel carry a drug that quickly reverses an opioid overdose.

However, another drug poses an even greater threat.

“Methamphetamine is the most common drug in Kern County,” she said. “All patrol officers are equipped with Narcan to protect community members who may be overdosed, as well as [to] to protect yourself.”

Kernkamp added that KCSO sees fentanyl being mixed with more substances to increase the potency of the drug.

According to the United States Drug Enforcement Agency, fentanyl is a synthetic opioid 80 to 100 times more potent than morphine.

“This leads to very serious exposures and, unfortunately, fatal overdoses,” she said. “Fentanyl is extremely dangerous and is not a drug to be underestimated.”

People interested in breaking their addiction or helping a loved one overcome a struggle can find many local resources to help them, Kernkamp said.

“If you think you have located someone who has overdosed, call 911 immediately,” she said. “You can also buy Narcan from a pharmacist without a prescription. “

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