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Bath salts forum to be held in Syracuse

There's a high level of anxiety among emergency responders in central New York when it comes to dealing with users of of the designer drugs known as bath salts.  That's why the Upstate New York Poison Center is sponsoring a forum Friday with experts to explain what a bath salts user does, and why.

It's been known to take as many as six people to subdue someone who's having a bad reaction to the synthetic drugs known as bath salts.   

Upstate New York Poison Center administrator Michele Caliva says this  superhuman strength and violence that is a hallmark of a bad reaction to bath salts is creating stress and anxiety for  EMTs and others who come in contact with cases across Central New York.

"Think about somebody who's fighting for their life and these people think they are, they are that delusional.  You get aggressive.  You have that extra strength. They have that adrenaline rush," said Caliva.

The bath salts phenomenon has only exploded recently, and experts are now figuring out the best way to approach abusers.

"We are encouraging when EMS responds, that they have police back up when they go into a home," Caliva said. "We are also suggesting that when they approach a patient who may be high on bath salts and synthetic marijuana that only one person talk to them, that they are very calm, that they don't rush to the scene but approach it cautiously and gingerly so that that person doesn't become more frightened."

Officials hope the forum helps develop a plan of action to fight the violence that is often a by-product of using bath salts.  There have been 273 calls about bath salts to the Upstate Poison Center so far this year, most from health care providers.

"They're a little bit concerned about the level of violence they are encountering when they are managing patients that have a bath salt or synthetic marijuana ingestion," Caliva said.  "They're actually concerned and fearful for themselves as well as their colleagues."   

Caliva is encouraging anyone who may come in contact with bath salts users to come to Friday's forum. You can register to attend the event by calling 315-471-1359.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.