Herald Staff Writer
The Barberton Fire Department sent out an alert through the city of Barberton’s public safety announcement service, Nixle, warning residents about a dangerous batch of fentanyl/heroin. The message, released June 5 around 9:30 p.m. read, “Barberton Fire believes there is a stronger than normal or laced batch of heroin/fentanyl in the city. Please check on relatives and friends.” Nixle is a service governed by the city to alert residents of emergencies and notices. Barberton Fire Chief Kim Baldwin said this particular alert was directed by the on-duty fire officer Michael Corll. Baldwin said his firefighters were trying to be proactive. “I believe EMS crews prematurely suspected an increase of overdoses based on information from Cuyahoga County about a week ago,” Baldwin explained. Chief Baldwin said the department responded to four overdose calls two days prior to the alert. He noted that is more than they’ve seen over the past couple of weeks but said the Nixle message was worded poorly. Fire Department Captain Michael Corll released a statement to news sources stating, “There was a “rash” of overdoses in the last few hours and there was a bad batch going around.” According to Barberton Police Department reports, in the 24 hours leading up to the alert, there was one confirmed overdose on Eighth Street Northwest and one possible overdose at McDonald’s. The chain of command to send out Nixle alerts from the police department requires the chief and/or the lieutenants approval. Mayor Judge confirms,”We use Nixle a lot; boil alerts, precautionary boil alerts, BOLO (be on the lookout). When there is an emergency and time is of the essence, it’s important to get the information out, there is discretion of the use of Nixle in order to get important information out to the public.”Judge said he was not notified before the alert was sent out. “Our EMS and first responders felt there was a potential for emergency that’s why it was issued,” said Judge. Judge explained that he doesn’t mind being overly cautious if it means saving a life.