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Opioid overdose deaths on the rise

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GRAND FORKS, ND (WDAZ-TV) -- Opioids send hundreds to the emergency room in Grand Forks -- as addiction grips the community.

WDAZ's Kenneth Chase tells us about the city's plans to save lives.

It's been almost three years --

"Foam and stuff was coming out," says Debra Dysievick, mom.  

since Debra Dysievick's son died from a fentanyl overdose.

"He's still always on my mind 24/7 and that'll never go away till I die," says Dysievick.

In 2017, four people died from opioid overdoses in Grand Forks.

With nearly three hundred and fifty sent to the emergency room.

An emergency epidemic --

"Hopefully if they can get there in time and save someone's life, fantastic," says Dysievick.

the city is hoping to stop.

As of yesterday, Narcan is in the hands of University of North Dakota's patrol officers.

Soon, city leaders hope each of the Grand Forks Police Department's officers will carry the life-saving drug also.

"We want to be able to get them the help that they need when they're ready and we want to make sure we can keep people alive and healthy until that time if they are currently using opiods," says Michael Dulitz, Opiate Response Project Coordinator.  

The Public Health Department has hired this man, an expert on opiods, to respond to the area's crisis.

He's tasked with tackling the problem.

He tells us step one is to bring a doctor to the area able to prescribe drugs like Methadone in order to help patients get off opiods.

"People do crazy things for water and food and opioids are no different," says Dulitz.

It's a method Dysievick's son tried before his death.

"Going through it with my son it wasn't the answer. And he even told me that himself" says Dysievick.  

But she says she doesn't know the answer.

She's hoping discussion is a start.

"We all have to come together as a community and try," says Dysievick.

All in hopes of keeping someone else's family safe.