Sounding the alarm: Reno County health officials worry about increase in drug overdoses


RENO CO., Kan. (KSNW) – An increase in drug overdoses in the last week has Reno County Health Department officials alarmed. In the last seven days, Reno County has seen 15 overdoses, one of which was fatal. 

Seth Dewey and Ana Woodburn both work with the Reno County Health Department. 

“We’re faced with a public health crisis, that’s what this is,” said Dewey. 

The two have both faced their own opioid addiction. 

“I was a person who didn’t really know how to get help. I got in legal trouble pretty early on and that was really the only rounds of help that I got which saved my life every time,” said Woodburn. 

After going through recovery and noticing a spike in overdose cases, they realized more needs to be done. They started Addicts Against Overdose. 

The group provides Narcan to anyone who needs it in the community. Recently, more people have been coming to their Narcan supply drive-thru. Woodburn said they’ve been handing out anywhere from 100 to 300 every time. 

Woodburn said Narcan is for people that overdose. It gives the person time to get the medical attention they need.

“We want to change the culture that you have to hit rock bottom because now people are not getting the chance to hit rock bottom because they’re dying first,” said Dewey.

In a collaboration with EMS, the Kansas Recovery Network, health departments, and other organizations, the county is working with an overdose detection mapping system. It started in Maryland and has been picked up in Kansas. It tracks real-time data for overdoses. 

You can see the statistics here. 

This week is where it sounded the alarm.

“We had four heroin overdoses within a 24 hour period,” said Dewey. 

Dewey said the mapping system helps refine what trends are happening in the community. The health department is seeing opioid, meth, heroin and oxycontin overdoses, and believe they are laced with fentanyl. 

He said only the Kansas City area is the ones using the program actively. He said many have the program but are not adding in the information. 

Dewey said if every county did this, it would help Kansas track the trends on a daily basis, so he, and others, can find the solution to what is a large problem.  

Dewey plans to meet with community leaders in Wichita soon to discuss this. 

He is also holding a town hall in Hutchinson on Friday at the Fox Theater to discuss the stigma of drug overdoses and what the community can do to help out.

Addicts Against Overdose is working to become a nonprofit. Their GoFundMe can be found here.

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