Community raises awareness for fentanyl overdoses

Community+raises+awareness+for+fentanyl+overdoses

Stephen Martin, Staff Reporter

Members of the Ellensburg community gathered outside of the courthouse to raise awareness for the six Ellensburg residents who have died of fentanyl-related overdoses in the past year. On Oct. 2, the protest was attended by over a dozen community members, including the families of several of the victims.

Rick Jackson, resident of Ellensburg since the 70s, organized the protest after going to several memorials for the victims.

“I’ve watched all four memorials so far, and it broke my heart, and I don’t want to see this anymore,” Jackson said. “I’m a dad of two so I’m not gonna sit down, I’m out here doing something.”

Jackson, who is homeless, personally knew many of the victims from time spent staying at the skate park.

“I’ve been staying there every night for the last four months. All the kids at the park know me,” Jackson said. “And I’ve seen everything going good and everything going down.”

Jackson said he hoped the protest would raise awareness and prevent any further deaths.

“Make bigger awareness. Put it out. Let everybody know,” Jackson said. “Just making awareness for everybody is all I’m doing. Just watching over the kids.”

Pam Tuggle Miles, who works for Community Health of Central Washington, also attended the event. She said she believes the county needs to be more transparent with its handling of the crisis.

“Let us know, as a community, that the eyes are on this and that there are some things that are being done,” Miles said. “Who’s reaching out to the families? Is the school reaching out to kids and saying, ‘We have a mental health counselor, if you have a place that you need to go and talk, we have a place where you can come.’?”

She also left out several pamphlets on the courthouse lawn containing information about health resources and wanted to make it clear that help is available to those who need it.

“Here in our county, we have the Kittitas County Health Network,” Miles said. “And you can go on the website, there’s different groups, like Community Health of Central Washington, KVH, Comprehensive Health, and Merit Resources.”

There is a memorial at the skatepark for the six who have died.