Last weekend we saw a surge in 999 calls for people who were in a zombie like state, suspected of taking synthetic high drugs including Mamba and Spice. Most calls on Saturday and Sunday were to cases in Nottingham and Derby and involved groups of people with similar symptoms. One case reported nine individuals across several doorways in Nottingham city centre who were reported as having breathing difficulties and the inability to speak.
Due to the seriousness of the symptoms several ambulance crews were dispatched to the incidents, however it can be difficult for our crews to engage with the patients in their ‘zombied’ state. In many cases the patients declined assistance, refused to give us their details and didn't want to be treated or go to hospital.
Whilst attempting to care for these patients some of our crews were also assaulted both physically and verbally. A crew from Derby were physically assaulted twice in one shift by patients who had taken this drug.
Wendy Hazard, Ambulance Operations Manager for Nottinghamshire said:
“We’ve had previous cases reported of patients using synthetic drugs, however, this weekend crews were reporting case after case.
“These drugs are dangerous and often contain harmful chemicals which can put lives at risk.
“When high on synthetics, symptoms can include unconsciousness and slurred speech, all of which mimic someone who is in a life-threatening condition.
“Users are risking their own lives due to the harmful chemicals but are also at risk of endangering the lives of others by taking a crew away from someone who really needs them.”
Facts and figures
Not all cases are clear at the time of the call if the patient has taken a substance. We receive a 999 call to report a patients symptoms and therefore respond based on that information ie unconscious not breathing. As such these figures only show cases where the caller reported the patient had taken spice of mamba.
- Over the weekend in Derby there were 31 incidents, some with multiple patients
- In Nottingham we responded to 10 incidents and treated 22 patients. Of those, 9 were congregated in the city centre and we received multiple 999 calls throughout the day
- In Derby three staff members reported physical assaults from patients who were suspected as being under the influence of a synthetic substance
- Crews in both areas reported aggression and verbal abuse
We are urging the public to keep safe and consider the consequences of taking dangerous drugs.
Anyone who has information regarding the illegal supply of psychoactive substances can call 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.