How Fort Worth is Fighting the Fentanyl Crisis: A Report on the City’s Efforts and Challenges


Nearly 70% of all drug overdose fatalities and nearly all opioid overdoses in the United States are caused by fentanyl.

In light of the current situation, the Fire, Police, and Neighborhood Services departments of the City of Fort Worth are actively collaborating with other organizations to decrease the consumption of fentanyl and opioids.

What is fentanyl?

Synthetic opioid fentanyl has a potency of up to fifty times that of heroin and one hundred times that of morphine.

  • It has a significant role in both lethal and nonlethal overdoses in the United States.
  • The prescription kind of fentanyl and the illicit variety are the two main varieties. They are both opiate synthetics.
  • Its tremendous strength makes drugs more strong, more addictive, hazardous, and inexpensive, hence it is routinely added to other narcotics.
  • Due to its heroin-like effects, illicitly produced fentanyl has been associated with the majority of recent fentanyl overdose occurrences.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that over 150 individuals die daily in the United States from overdoses using synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl.

How Fort Worth is Responding?

The Fort Worth Fire Department responded to about 1,000 instances per year in fiscal years 2022 and 2023 involving suspected overdoses or poisonings. In about 20% of the cases, firefighters found evidence of a real poisoning or overdose when they arrived at the site.

In FY22, 65% of suspected overdose occurrences were delivered Narcan, while in FY23, 75% of these incidents were so.

FWFD, UNT Health Science Center, and Tarrant County MHMR were recently funded by the Neighborhood Services Department to reduce the negative effects of opioid distribution and usage.

To combat the epidemic of opioid misuse, FWFD will work with these organizations, as well as FWPD and MedStar, in the next year.

The following projects are in the works:

  • First aid for the community Training on how to administer Narcan Interactions with loved ones
    Providing personal care products
  • Best wishes Rapid response team to assess potential overdose symptoms within one to three days
  • Best wishes Crisis intervention and team risk assessment for impacted communities

Fort Worth Police Department: The FWPD’s reaction is meant to police the law and protect life.

In 2017, the police department started teaching officers how to use Narcan and giving them it to use in the field to protect themselves and other people from drug exposure and possible deaths.

412 officers and citizens have been trained in how to use Narcan since the program began, and 357 doses have been given to police so far. Twenty-two of these amounts have been given in the field to save lives.

In 2022, the FWPD put together a group of narcotics detectives whose job was to look into drug-related deaths and potential overdoses.

The police communications center tells these drug agents when patrol officers are sent to a call about a possible fentanyl overdose. In 2023, the team replied to 98 calls about overdoses. Of those, 76 were deaths caused by fentanyl overdoses.

At the end of last year, the Fort Worth Police Department was one of the first in Texas and the first in Tarrant County to charge a suspect with murder after an overdose of fentanyl.

There are also lessons being taught to teachers, managers, and mentors on how to spot dangerous drugs in this group.

MedStar: The overdose reaction team for MedStar is made up of one mobile health paramedic and one peer support expert from the Recovery Resource Council.

Between December 2021 and October 2023, the team got 3,168 requests. During that time, 373 people got at least one program service.

In 2023, the team got an average of 90 visits a month.

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