Wichita Falls community speaks on fentanyl crisis

Published: Oct. 17, 2022 at 6:47 PM CDT
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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - Fentanyl poisoning is now the leading cause of death in 18 to 45-year-olds. Over 20 people have died from a fentanyl overdose in Wichita Falls just this year.

That’s why the Rotary Club of Southwest Wichita Falls felt it was so important to talk about this on Monday. They teamed up with police and the schools and hosted a crisis panel discussion to share with the community how this drug has found its way inside homes and schools in Wichita Falls.

After seeing the age groups that fentanyl overdoses are affecting the most, officials said something had to be done because just one pill can kill.

“I have a grand-daughter who is 10 and I am sitting here going this is just not right when it becomes personal and my kids could get tied up with this stuff,” Jack Browne, member of the Rotary Club of Southwest Wichita Falls, said. “We had to do something.”

Raising awareness and educating, those were the driving forces behind Monday’s panel discussion about the fentanyl crisis in the Wichita Falls community.

“Every child, every life is important,” Stacey Wood, director of nurses for WFISD, said. “One lost is one too many, so the importance of this is the extreme dire need to make sure that people are educated about the awareness of fentanyl.”

“It is important that this starts at home with the parents because these kids are out there with their friends,” Wichita Falls Police Chief Manuel Borrego said. “You don’t ever know who they are hanging out with. This stuff is readily available unfortunately out there in the streets.”

“I talked to my kids and grandkids about it this weekend,” Browne said. “I don’t think they are around it but if I don’t educate them then who will.”

Officials said carrying the load is not for only one entity, but a community effort to educate and raise awareness.

“We need to work as a village, as we say and not just as a police department,” Borrego said. “We need to work with the whole community on getting this stuff off the street.”

“We have people coming in that are educating our students,” Wood said. “From the healthcare side, we have all of our staff that are trained, and we do have naloxone in every one of our campuses. Everyone is trained to use it.”

Borrego said a way that the community can immediately get involved and help is to let the police department or Crime Stoppers know if you find or know someone who has fentanyl or is selling it so they can get involved before another life is taken.

“I have been here 40 years,” Borrego said. “I have seen marijuana to crack cocaine to heroin, all that, but this is probably the worst I have seen. This is really scary stuff that is out there.”

Wichita Falls ISD has already began implementing programs and has worked with the Wichita Falls Police Department and Crime Stoppers to educate kids inside the classroom.