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UMC EMS Training Chief Chad Curry

Courtesy Photo/UMC Health System

Drugs that are now being sold, both over-the-counter and on the streets are far more potent and dangerous than they were in previous decades, according to Chad Curry, University Medical Center EMS Training Chief Chad Curry.

Curry spoke to students in two presentations at MISD Monday, and in a presentation aimed at parents during the evening. The lecture title was “Drug Awareness and What Parents Need to Know.”

In an interview, Curry called vaping one of the gateway drugs to addiction.

“Even just the flavor, the vape juice, is so dangerous,” he said.

According to the American Lung Association, “Diacetyl is frequently added to flavored e-liquid to enhance the taste. Inhaling diacetyl causes inflammation and may lead to permanent scarring in the smallest branches of the airways — popcorn lung — which makes breathing difficult. Popcorn lung has no lasting treatment.”

“There was a 15-year-old who had a lung transplant,” Curry said. “They’re hurting from popcorn lunging at a young age.”

In Texas, it’s legal to buy vape at age 21.

“High schoolers typically get it from a dealer or a friend,” Curry said. “The amount available is crazy, with everything including heroin. Junior high schools have had methadone in vapes. That’s a big hard drug. There will be a few deaths.”

One of the most potent drugs is fentanyl, something that Curry uses in his work as a licensed paramedic.

“Street grade is about 1,000 times more potent than what I get as a paramedic,” he said. “Carfentanil is 10,000 times more potent than morphine. In a small city not too far from here in another state, an officer breathed in some from a bag of carfentanil, an amount equal to one grain of sand. He stopped breathing.”

Fortunately, paramedics were able to treat the officer. Curry said medical staff and police officers wear fentanyl resistant clothing.

In his lectures, Curry encourages parents to check their kids’ cars and rooms for drugs and drug paraphernalia.

“If you have a high suspicion, have them drug tested,” he advises. “There are home tests for tobacco as well as a 10-panel drug test.”

However, Curry says, since vaping causes no odor, and synthetic drugs and CBD products won’t pop on the drug screen, parents and teachers should also be aware of their students’ behavior, especially big mood swings.

“During my lectures, I tell parents here’s what’s available. It opens the door for you parents. Now go have the conversation,” Curry said.

The events Monday were largely organized by School Health/Nurse Sharon Riegel, according to Greg Hill, MISD Director of Instruction and Operations.

“Chad Curry is the training chief with UMC EMS, and he’s been called to the border in terms of having to do things with different EMS teams,” Hill said. “He’s aware of all the things coming across, such as fentanyl and different drugs, some of the things they see in Lubbock and on social media.

“It’s a trend on the east and west coasts that’s taken a long time to come to middle America. He warns parents and teachers of the problems and pitfalls of vaping. There’s no one better as an expert in that field than Chad is.”

MISD plans to call in more experts and hold a series of events during the school year to educate students and parents on the types and dangers of drug use.

Gail M. Williams

Muleshoe Journal Correspondent


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