New program launches to educated Chatham Co. residents about deadly drug fentanyl

Published: Mar. 16, 2022 at 1:13 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Chatham County’s Counter Narcotics Team (CNT) announced Wednesday it is starting a new program next week aimed at educating the public on the dangers of opioids. It comes after deadly overdoses more than doubled last year in the county.

CNT Director Michael Sarhatt said fentanyl is behind the deadly spike. He said parents should be on high alert because fentanyl is more powerful than anything they’ve seen before, and it’s very difficult for his officers to detect. He said dealers are lacing everything from heroin to marijuana with the clear, odorless drug, making it extremely dangerous for young people who may be experimenting with drugs.

“I can tell you this: this is a one shot deal. Alright?” Sarhatt said. “One time, and they could die.”

Sarhatt, flanked by roughly a dozen leaders from other local law enforcement agencies, made the announcement in the Chatham County Board of Commissioners’ chamber late Wednesday afternoon.

Sarhatt said the first program will be held next Thursday, March 24, at 6 p.m. in the Islands High School auditorium. It will consist of a video, PowerPoint presentation, and an opportunity for public comment. Sarhatt said it is just the first of several programs CNT plans to host across the community in the coming months.

WTOC Investigates has been following the fentanyl crisis closely in our area. In January, we told you about the spike in overdose deaths in Chatham County. At that point, Sarhatt told WTOC they had recorded 48 overdoses for 2021, with more autopsy results pending. As of Wednesday, that number has jumped to 54, more than twice as many as the 26 recorded in 2020. Sarhatt said fentanyl was involved in 75% of those overdose deaths.

Sarhatt said it’s that alarming uptick in fentanyl-related overdoses that pushed CNT to take action.

“I think there’s a lot of parents out there that don’t understand it… so it’s our responsibility to make them aware of the situation,” Sarhatt said.

WTOC will update you on air and online about how you can access these new educational programs.

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