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First responders warn of increasing fentanyl overdoses in central Iowa

First responders say the first thing to do during a suspected opioid overdose is to call 911.

AMES, Iowa — Most are likely familiar with fentanyl, a powerful opioid typically prescribed for pain relief. But there's also an illegal form that's starting to pop up on the streets more frequently.

Recent discussions about the drug and its potentially deadly outcomes have popped up in Ames following a Facebook post from the police department.

The post details how the Ames Police Department (APD) responded to two separate incidents where people thought they had overdosed on Oxycodone. 

However, drug tests determined the pills were actually made of cocaine and fentanyl. 

"Unfortunately, in the first call we had in August, the young man died as a result of the overdose," said Cmdr. Jason Tuttle with APD. "When we found the second one, we thought it was very prudent we put out some information to the community because we believe there are likely other pills floating out there in the community. And they are harmful to individuals who take them." 

The problem isn't limited to Ames. Officers with the Des Moines Police Department (DMPD) have also seen more fentanyl in recent years. 

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"I think that's a nationwide trend," said Sgt. Paul Parizek with DMPD. "The problem with it is, is that it's so much more potent than what people are used to when they're taking pills." 

That increased potency is what makes fentanyl so dangerous. It can be 50 times stronger than morphine. 

So what should people do when they suspect someone is overdosing? Call 911.

First responders need to treat the individual as soon as possible, which they often do with Narcan. Thanks to Iowa's Good Samaritan Law, those who call in an overdose don't have to worry about being charged. 

"If you stick around for the medical folks to get there and you provide them your information, then you can be immune from being prosecuted for being potentially in possession of some type of substance," Tuttle said. "Again, our ultimate goal is to get these individuals medical treatment." 

Last year, Iowa made Narcan free and Iowans can pick it up at nearly any pharmacy. The medicine typically comes in the form of a nasal spray. Those wanting to obtain Narcan, or naloxone, can do so by clicking/tapping here.

Watch: 'I know the loss, I know the stigma': In memory of son, Iowa mother raises awareness about overdose

RELATED: 'I know the loss, I know the stigma': In memory of son, Iowa mother raises awareness about overdose

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