A spate of ‘spice attacks’ over the weekend has sparked fears that a new batch of the synthetic drug is being distributed in Bristol.
Paramedics were called on Sunday (June 23) to reports of a man unconscious at the bottom of Union Street in Broadmead having allegedly taken Spice, often referred to as the zombie drug.
While members of the public and homeless volunteers came to his aid they were made aware of another two people nearby suffering with similar symptoms.
An ambulance crew arrived on the scene accompanied by a hazardous area response team and treated two men, one who is a known rough sleeper.
“We transported them to hospital by ambulance for further care. Another patient declined treatment,” said a spokesperson for South Western Ambulance Service.
The shocking incident was documented by Bristol Outreach Services for the Homeless (BOSH) who were close-by and attended the incident.
In a post on the group’s Facebook they described how one of the men began fitting.
They said: “It would seem that there is a new batch of spice in the city and we are seeing people very unwell.”
Speaking to Bristol Live, BOSH said they attend several ‘spice attacks’ a week during outreach. They added the team undergoes training with Bristol Drugs Project and are first aid trained.
Spice – one of the names used to refer to a type of synthetic cannabis – used to be a ‘legal high’ and was sold in shops. However, it was banned in May 2016.
As it is extremely cheap, it is popular particularly among the homeless community, where there is little sign of its usage reducing.
The Class B drug is commonly thought of as an addictive substance and is a psychoactive substance and can have a number of side effects from hallucinations and vomiting to heart attacks and psychotic and violent behaviour.
Emergency calls made about Spice related incidents have soared since 2017 with the number of reports to the South Western Ambulance Service jumping to 960 in between the Summers of 2017 and 2018 compared with 157 the previous year.
What to do if you see someone on Spice in Bristol
1. If you are worried about the person’s immediate health or welfare then call a paramedic on 999.
2. If you are worried for the immediate safety of the person, yourself or the public then call the police on 999.
3. If you feel able to do so, try and engage with the person. Make a human connection and check they are ok. Ask if they are in touch with support from the St Mungo’s rough sleeping outreach team and consider looking up practical options on Bristol Homeless Connect.
4. If you are alarmed by anti-social behaviour, but the person is not in any immediate difficulty, you can report to the police or the council’s Streetwise team via avonandsomerset.police.uk or 101.
5. To get the person in touch with support from St Mungo’s rough sleeping outreach team, report via streetlink.org.uk or the Streetlink app. Include as much info as possible, such as name, description, phone number, specific location.