Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2018, $271,960)
As of the end of 2017, New Hampshire is ranked number two in the country for the number of drug overdose deaths per capita, second only to West Virginia.
The Forensic Laboratory and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner have seen a marked increase in workload as a result. Much needed evidence technicians, an executive assistant, and equipment have been requested with this NFSI Formula application in order to streamline the evidence collection and storage process at the OCME, and training, accreditation, and a new spectrophotometer have been requested in order to work on the backlog of evidence testing as a result of the autopsies. 483 people in New Hampshire died in 2017 (with more to be added, pending toxicology tests) from drug overdoses. As of April 18, 2018, 40 people have been confirmed to have died this year alone from drug overdoses, 35 of which died from opioid/opiate intoxication. However, at this time there are 86 more suspected drug overdose deaths yet to be confirmed. All 86 are "pending toxicology results", which can take up to three months to be returned to the pathologist for determination.
It is critical that New Hampshire addresses the backlog of autopsy evidence, both at the OCME and the forensic lab. The opioid crisis has added a significant burden to those two entities and the Coverdell grant has been of major help in assisting them.
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