LANCASTER, Pa. - Usage of synthetic marijuana, also known as K2, is spiking in Lancaster within the last week. First responders say they're being called about a half dozen times a day or more to treat people unconscious on the streets from the drug.
"It's absolutely insane," said Lancaster EMS paramedic lieutenant Andrew Gilger. "It's beyond anything we've actually ever seen."
Lancaster Police say the uptick in usage of the drug started about a week ago. It's causing people using it to go unconscious in the streets. Lancaster EMS and Police are then called to help treat people but with limited resources it has responders feeling frustrated.
"Other things aren't stopping," said lieutenant Bill Hickey with Lancaster Police. "We're still seeing the fights and the car crashes and the alarms and the burglaries and all the things we need to deal with. But we have resources tied up dealing with people who are with this self inflicted type of thing."
Most of the time K2 users are not in a life or death situation but they are unconscious which means they have to be taken to the hospital. First responders are also dealing with the same people multiple times a day. Over a 48-hour period this past weekend, Lt. Gilger says they were call to treat the same guy nine different times.
"I hate to say it in this way but it wastes our time," said Lt. Gilger. "It taxes our system when we could be responding to a call for someone with chest pain or shortness of breath or a diabetic problem. Someone who may really need our assistance in a life or death matter, we could be scrapping up another overdose victim off the sidewalk because they choose to smoke K2."
Because of the way K2 works, most people become unconscious within 45 minutes of taking the drug. It makes it difficult for police to try and figure out who is selling it and in what neighborhood it's coming from because so much time have passed from the time someone used the drug to when they start feeling the effects.
"We realize we can't stop everything but we definitely would like to put a stop to this," said Lt. Hickey. "Because its draining our resources and tying us up unnecessarily."
Anyone with information on who is selling K2 is urged to call police.