When first responders receive a call, they can never be sure of what they might encounter - and when synthetic marijuana is involved, their jobs can be that much harder.
"Our big thing is, we come in numbers with fire responding with EMS; that gives us a lot of help," said UMC EMS Training Chief, Chad Curry.
While the sale, possession and use of synthetic marijuana is against the law within Lubbock city limits, that doesn't stop people from using it.
"It happens pretty regularly. There's hundreds of stories just inside the city of Lubbock," Curry said.
While everyone can react differently to the designer drug, they said it is not uncommon for people to react violently.
"We have had to go to the extreme of...even putting somebody to sleep deep enough to put a breathing tube or an airway into them just in order to protect them and protect us," Curry said.
Even more dangerous, sometimes paramedics have to risk giving the patient a sedative not knowing exactly what is in their system.
"You're doing what you are taught and how you are taught to sedate somebody...in order to protect them as the patient and us as the first responders, but unfortunately with the new components, with the herbal medications they may be mixing them in a certain way and then our drugs are reacting to that. We don't know until we give them the drug," Curry said.
They have already adjusted their classes to help prepare paramedics for potentially violent situations, but more training could soon be in the works.
"You try to teach your staff to have good street awareness, have good awareness of what's going on around them at all times and then eventually we may actually have to look at some form of self defense training," Curry said.
That is something the Lubbock Fire Department has already started.
Read Fowler is a firefighter and paramedic who teaches a self defense class for Lubbock firefighters.
"If you have a society in general that allows violent behavior and then you put your drugs on top of that, it's a little worse than it used to be... It's a different world, it's a different country than when I started 32 years ago," Fowler said.
"The people who are making this stuff, they don't care, they don't care about the people on the other end, they are just in it for the money. And the poor guys on the back end that are getting the cheap rush out of it, and dying from it, they are the victims," Fowler said.
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