FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – It’s a trend being seen in public libraries all across the country, drug users taking advantage of the public places and shooting up.
“In the 18 plus years that I’ve been the safety security manager we haven’t really seen this kind of uptick,” Allen County Public Library security manager John Hidy said.
Allen County Public Libraries sees about one or two heroin overdoses in its facilities a year, according to Hidy. This year there have been four overdoses.
“One very serious that both security here and EMS personnel didn’t think the individual was going to survive it was that serious,” Hidy said.
Libraries, with their private nooks and lots of isolated places are popular with drug users. Hidy said once they use, they’re in a hurry to leave often leaving behind evidence. Maintenance and housekeeping crews have found paraphernalia left in several places, including needles. An employee has even been pricked by a needle used for drugs.
“They’re carelessly abandoned, sometimes they’re tucked between the cushions of seats, sometimes just left on the floor in restrooms or out on the landscaping in the shrubbery and bushes and things like that,” Hidy said.
He said staff now regularly checks all of those areas for items used by drug users to keep customers safe.
However, it’s not just heroin. Hidy said spice is more commonly used in Allen County libraries.
“We’ve had several incidents where the individuals have passed out using it and have been very difficult to wake them up,” Hidy said.
About seven of the 147 medical runs to the library this year were drug or alcohol related. To help combat the problem, Hidy said they’re working closely with police and EMS. Staff members are also going through more training, including looking at whether or not they need to have the overdose reversal drug Narcan in the libraries.
“We’re being very proactive and our administration is very proactive on this too and is looking into some of the alternatives such as the Narcan,” Hidy said.
President Obama has declared the week of Sept. 18 – Sept. 24 Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week. The president has called on Congress to approve $1.1 billion to help fight the epidemic.