Updated 07/20/2012 06:36 PM
First forum in Onondaga County focuses on bath salts
As much as we've heard lately about the drugs known as bath salts, it seems they're maybe not talked about enough. Hundreds of people with lots of concerns packed a forum on the issue at Onondaga Community College Friday. Our Kat De Maria was there and heard some new and alarming stories from first responders.
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SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- For every story we've heard about bath salts, there are many we haven't.
First responders know them all, like the one that started with a man allegedly trying to break into apartments by smashing windows.
"He was thrown out of the building and ran across to a railroad area where he attempted to jump on to a freight train and basically bounced off it and was finally subdued by police officers," said Syracuse Fire Lieutenant Brian Falise, who works on ambulances for the SFD and also EAVES.
Falise says it took six officers to restrain the man. He detailed the incident following a forum on bath salts at Onondaga Community College Friday.
"It's much bigger than the news is portraying. It's reaching epidemic levels," Falise said.
The term "bath salts" is a catchall for a variety of synthetic drugs. Manufacturers keep altering the compounds so they're difficult to test for and outlaw. First responders say they often have no choice but to assume someone is on bath salts.
They and medical professionals are dealing with the brunt of the issue now. But a variety of questions from social service workers, educators and others suggests there is concern communitywide about when bath salts will come to them.
"We need to do more education, we need to do more outreach and we will work with people in social services, the people in the health department, the people in probation who may be seeing this," said Onondaga County Health Commissioner Dr. Cynthia Morrow.
Experts agree education is key, even first responders who say the more people know about the drugs, the more solutions there might be to prevent people trying to jump at trains.
"We really want to see programs established that we can cut it off ahead of time so we don't have to deal with this," Falise said.
Officials with the Onondaga County Health Department and Upstate Poison Control Center say they're more than willing to do education to groups about bath salts. They say anyone interested just has to ask.