Alston said drug overdoses in New Haven, as in other cities, are at epidemic proportions and that the city is in the grip of a public health crisis.
Officials described a hectic scene as emergency crews worked to respond to all of the overdose reports. By late Wednesday night there had been no deaths reported. Some people were unconscious, others were semi-conscious.
Officials say most of the overdoses happened on the New Haven Green throughout the day Wednesday.
"The man was arrested within the last hour by members of the NHPD Intelligence Unit", police said in a release. In May, for example, 25 people were hospitalized in one area of Brooklyn, New York, after having negative reactions to what was believed to be K2, police said.
Officials were testing the blood of victims to determine what exactly triggered their symptoms. More than 70 people fell ill from suspected drug overdoses on the green and were taken to local hospitals.
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As Fire Chief John Alston Jr. spoke to reporters in New Haven, Connecticut, about a spate of drug overdoses on Wednesday, he heard shouting coming from behind him.
The majority of cases were centered on the New Haven Green, adjacent to Yale University. Paramedics were seen sprinting from patient to patient as they began to show symptoms including vomiting, hallucination and unconsciousness. The additives boost the high, but can create a risky, sometimes deadly cocktail. Chief Mark Vendetto, New Haven Fire Department.
Officer David Hartman was quoted by the newspaper as saying the patients were being treated for overdose-related respiratory illnesses.
"[Fire Chief] Alston says the substance appears to be some type of synthetic cannabis, but authorities are not sure".
The overdoses prompted the Office of Emergency Medical Services to issue a "Situational Awareness Advisory" about K2 to all EMS organizations in the state.
More than a dozen people overdosed on synthetic marijuana July 4 in New Haven, The Associated Press reported at the time.