Los Angeles Fire Department spokeswoman Margaret Stewart informed that eighteen people from the Skid Row homeless district were cured by firefighters on Monday and 14 were taken to hospitals
Earlier the department assessed about 50 people transported to thirty eight different hospitals on Friday. Authorities said though the real cause of illnesses has not yet been defined by toxicology tests but it was likely a type of synthetic marijuana called “spice.”
Brian Humphries, Fire Department spokesman said those treated Friday showed difficulty with muscular coordination, had slurred speech and were vomiting. According to the police sergeant Ed Kinney the affected group consumed synthetic drugs from the same batch because of the same kind of symptoms and large volume of calls within the same time frame.
“Because it’s synthetic, nobody for sure knows what active ingredients are in there, the strength is variable,” Marc Eckstein, the Los Angeles Fire Department medical director, said in a statement.
“The spectrum of responses to this particular strain has been everything from just straight catatonic, unconscious and having respiratory problems, to ambulatory but severely delusional, to just flat-out violent,” Los Angeles Police Department captain Graham said. “This homeless population is downtown is incredibly vulnerable. It’s not just vulnerable to crime, but it’s also vulnerable to the temptation of the illusion of someone coming along with a magic cigarette that can take away their anxieties for a day.”
“What happens is the chemist involved, or the distributor involved will take that chemical and spray it onto vegetation that’s prepared in the same way that tobacco is shredded for a cigarette, or marijuana is prepared to roll it into a joint,” Graham said.
Moreover, he added, that this drug is also causing loss in some other cities including New York where more than 100 people got sick last month so police is focusing on the dealers to cutoff the problem.