A man had a medical emergency in West Hollywood on Santa Monica Boulevard Thursday afternoon. First responders were on the scene after reports that a man had collapsed near a bus stop on the intersection of Santa Monica and La Cienega Boulevards. He was unconscious and foaming at the mouth when paramedics arrived. The incident occurred at roughly 4:45 p.m. A West Hollywood sheriff deputy confirmed that the man was high on fentanyl and unresponsive. The man was revived and transported to a nearby hospital.
Emergency vehicles blocked the right lane on Santa Monica Boulevard to tend to the person, creating a traffic jam during 5pm rush hour. The traffic conjestion lasted a little over a half-hour.
The City of West Hollywood recently announced that it is joining the recovery community in recognizing Thursday, August 31, 2023, as Overdose Awareness Day, a global event held annually to remember and memorialize the lives lost to drug overdoses and to promote awareness about the importance of overdose prevention. West Hollywood City Hall will be lit in purple, the color of recognition for Overdose Awareness Day. The City will also participate by sharing #OverdoseAwarenessDay messaging in @wehocity social media.
Originating in 2001, Overdose Awareness Day has become the world’s largest annual campaign to end overdoses and stimulate action and discussion about evidence-based treatment and harm reduction. Numbering nearly 110,000 overdose deaths, 2022 saw the highest recorded deaths in a calendar year in the United States, compared with 109,179 in 2021, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fentanyl, the powerful synthetic opioid, has been a significant factor in the rise of deadly overdoses and accidental drug poisonings.
Fentanyl overdoses continue to be a significant and growing public health problem that impacts people across race, ethnicity, and the socioeconomic spectrum. The City of West Hollywood contracts with many agencies to provide programming and services for people with substance use disorders and has taken steps to educate and raise awareness about the harms of fentanyl.
In 2019, the City began partnering with its contracted and collaborative agency partners to distribute fentanyl test strips to the community. In 2022, more than 10,000 fentanyl strips were distributed during WeHo Pride weekend and more than 5,000 were distributed during the 2022 December holidays leading up to New Year’s Eve. In 2023, free fentanyl test strips and Naloxone/Narcan were available throughout the 2023 WeHo Pride Street Fair.
Accidental fentanyl overdose deaths in Los Angeles County increased 1,280% from 109 deaths in 2016 to 1,504 deaths in 2021. Fentanyl is an addictive and deadly synthetic opioid that has been found in counterfeit pharmaceuticals and illicit substances such as methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, and ecstasy. It is especially dangerous because people are often unaware of Fentanyl contamination within the substances they are using. The potency of fentanyl (as high as 50 to 100 times the potency of morphine) greatly increases the risk of overdose.
Accidental overdose deaths caused by fentanyl can be prevented by fentanyl test strips and a life-saving medication called Naloxone (or by the brand name Narcan). The fentanyl test strip is a harm reduction tool used to test substances for trace amounts of fentanyl and it provides an indicator of how lethal the substance might be prior to consuming it. Naloxone/Narcan quickly reverses an overdose by blocking the effects of opioids and it can restore normal breathing within minutes in a person whose breath has slowed or stopped due to an overdose. The most common form of Naloxone/Narcan comes in an east-to-use nasal spray that allows bystanders to help stop a fatal overdose from occurring prior to the arrival of emergency services personnel.
The City of West Hollywood is working on next steps in the renovation of the historic Log Cabin building, which houses the West Hollywood Recovery Center (WHRC) on N. Robertson Boulevard. In late June 2023, the California State Legislature approved AB 102 Budget Act of 2023, which contains $1.15 million in appropriated funding to support the Log Cabin renovation project; in July 2023, Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 102 into law. More information about the Log Cabin history and renovation project, visit the City of West Hollywood’s news website area: https://www.weho.org/Home/Components/News/News/10917/23.