Heroin is a growing issue in our area.
but a map released by the La Crosse fire department
puts the problem in a new perspective.
News 8's Madalyn O'Neill is here now with a closer
Martha and Mike ...
As of now, the task of picking up improperly discarded
drug needles falls on the fire department.
This map uses information from 20-14 and 20-15 to
show where the department has found needles during
that two year time period in the city of La Crosse.
The fire chief says showing the data this way is a
good way to show just how important it is to address
Everybody's affected by this, all you need to do is
look at the map.
Each yellow dot represents a spot the fire department
has picked up a needle in 20-14 and 20-15.
We have them by children's musem, we have them by
parks, have them by schools.
It can be just one needle .
In some cases we've picked up 50 or more needles.
Though it may be easy to blame the needle exchange
program at the AIDS resource center in downtown La
health officials say the progam's pros outweigh the
HEALTH EDUCATOR, HEROIN AND ILLICIT DRUG TASK FORCE
COORDINATOR It does look like quite a few locations
and sites in area.
I believe though even if the needle exchange program
wasnt here we'd still find the needles.
it's possible it could be worse.
If the needle exchange wasn't available, that map
would be bigger and broader.
According to the center, many of the needles are returned.
80 percent that are given out are brought back.
They say not only do exchange programs prevent the
spread of communicable diseases like hepatitis C and
but can encourage users to get help.
Needle exchange programs don't increase heroin users.
They actually are reducing those numbers, because
as person comes in, they're able to have some education
and do quick one on one interventions to see if person
wants to do treatment.
Theres no question that there are benefits of having
exchange program, but you can see with unintended
consequences that's just as important to dispose of
them because it does pose a public health problem.
Fire Chief Cleveland hopes by showing the breadth
of the problem .
The needles are just showing up everywhere.
the community will realize it will take everyone's
help to solve it.
Until you make the awarenss, unitl you do what we've
done in terms of plotting out this.
People have to understand that it's not somebody else's
In LaX, MO, N8
One way to help will likely be coming in spring.
With the help of local organizations, health officials
hope to have a volunteer needle pickup program up
and running next year.
You can find that needle map on our website .
news 8000 dot com.