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Spike in tranq-laced fentanyl overdose deaths has Sonoma County officials on alert

Spike in fentanyl overdose deaths has Sonoma County officials on alert
Spike in fentanyl overdose deaths has Sonoma County officials on alert 02:47

PETALUMA --  An alert has gone out to Sonoma County residents after a rash of fentanyl overdose deaths in just one week. 

Petaluma Valley Hospital recently had three young patients come in in one week, all in their 20s. They had all overdosed, all three  passed away. 

Hospitals officials say xylazine known by its street name 'tranq' was mixed with fentanyl creating a deadly combination. It's triggering a crisis in their community.

"We want to save lives. We don't want to say goodbye to people,"said Wendi Thomas, the Director of Nursing Services. 

She has worked at Petaluma Valley Hospital for 25 years. The presence of tranq has her extremely concerned. 

"For healthcare providers, the emotional toll it's taking on us is tough," Thomas said.

Recently a young woman in her 20's was brought to the hospital, hours after she overdosed. By the time she arrived, there was nothing doctors could do to save her life. 

"One of our patients recently was an organ donor," Thomas said. "It broke all of our hearts, people came in on their day off to line the hallways as she was taken to the operating room to harvest her organs."

The hospital is partnering with first responders and law enforcement to warn the community about the drug. While Narcan has been effective in reversing pure fentanyl overdoses, the combination with tranq has made it extremely difficult to save lives. 

More Narcan has to be used in hopes of keeping a patient alive while the horse tranquilizer wears off. 

"There are times we've used all the Narcan we have in the hospital," Thomas said. "We've had to call our other hospitals to get more Narcan and we've had to order more because we've run out a couple of times."

The hope is by getting the information out to the community, people will be more aware of what they put in their bodies. 

"If you don't know where it's come from or what's in it, it can take one time for it to be lethal," Thomas said. "One time."

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