Story highlights

All the overdoses happened in a mile and a half radius

Ambulances had to be called in from other parts of the county

West Virginia has the highest rate of drug overdose death in the country

(CNN) —  

There were 27 heroin overdoses within four hours, including one death, in Huntington, West Virginia, on Monday. Officials believe the drug may be laced with something to make it particularly dangerous.

“I do not know what it was laced with, but I would love to know at this point,” Cabell County EMS Director Gordon Merry said.

There is some hope that the death can lead to some clues about what may be making the drugs so dangerous. Huntington Chief of Police Joe Ciccarelli said. “The state medical examiner will conduct a toxicology analysis to determine what was in the drug, but that will not come back for about 10 weeks. We did not seize any heroin from the other overdose victims, so we can’t analyze theirs.”

’Like a mass casualty event’

The calls started coming Monday afternoon, overwhelming the 911 call center and taxing ambulance resources in the area, according to Merry.

“We had tied up seven ambulances within minutes due to overdose calls and still needed more, which we had to get from other parts of the county. It was basically like a mass casualty event,” said Merry.

“Huntington has a population of about 50,000 people and usually sees around 18 to 20 overdoses in a week. So this was a huge increase, catastrophic,” he added.

What is naloxone?

All of the overdoses happened within a mile and a half radius, which leads officials to believe they are from the same batch of heroin. The overdose victims ranged from 20 years old to 50, according to Merry.

Eight people were revived using naloxone, an opioid-reversing drug. Others were revived by manual resuscitation, with a bag that simulates breathing. One of the victims had to be given naloxone three times because the heroin and whatever it was laced with was so strong, according to Merry.

orig am animation brain on heroin sanjay gupta_00000029.jpg
orig am animation brain on heroin sanjay gupta_00000029.jpg
Now playing
01:51
This is your brain on heroin
NEW LONDON, CT - MARCH 23:  A heroin user prepares to inject himself on March 23, 2016 in New London, CT. Communities nationwide are struggling with the unprecidented heroin and opioid pain pill epidemic. On March 15, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), announced guidelines for doctors to reduce the amount of opioid painkillers prescribed nationwide, in an effort to curb the epidemic. The CDC estimates that most new heroin addicts first became hooked on prescription pain medication before graduating to heroin, which is stronger and cheaper.  (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
PHOTO: John Moore/Getty Images
NEW LONDON, CT - MARCH 23: A heroin user prepares to inject himself on March 23, 2016 in New London, CT. Communities nationwide are struggling with the unprecidented heroin and opioid pain pill epidemic. On March 15, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), announced guidelines for doctors to reduce the amount of opioid painkillers prescribed nationwide, in an effort to curb the epidemic. The CDC estimates that most new heroin addicts first became hooked on prescription pain medication before graduating to heroin, which is stronger and cheaper. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:46
52 overdose calls in 32 hours
opioids addiction orig nws_00000613.jpg
opioids addiction orig nws_00000613.jpg
Now playing
01:09
Why are opioids so addictive?
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
01:45
Where does America's heroin come from?
Now playing
03:14
Opioids create generation of American orphans
opioids ohio dr ann difrangia costello intv _00002220.jpg
PHOTO: CNN
opioids ohio dr ann difrangia costello intv _00002220.jpg
Now playing
02:15
Doctor describes opioid crisis as 'overwhelming'
PHOTO: Georgia Bureau of Investigation
Now playing
02:08
Deaths from synthetic opioids on the rise
Police found an Indiana mother who overdosed on heroin passed out in car.
PHOTO: Hope Police Department
Police found an Indiana mother who overdosed on heroin passed out in car.
Now playing
01:48
(2016) Mom overdoses in car with baby in backseat
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
03:27
More heroin deaths than gun homicides in US
PHOTO: Zero Point Zero
Now playing
01:36
Bourdain follows path of heroin in America
heroin overdose Ron Hiers recovery nccorig_00004526.jpg
heroin overdose Ron Hiers recovery nccorig_00004526.jpg
Now playing
02:52
Heroin addict watches himself hit rock bottom
Now playing
04:36
How heroin gets across the border
Now playing
03:38
One small lab's big fight against heroin
Now playing
04:52
From honor student to heroin addict
Opioid generic
PHOTO: CNN
Opioid generic
Now playing
03:14
Overdose cases spike in Louisville
orig am animation brain on heroin sanjay gupta_00000029.jpg
orig am animation brain on heroin sanjay gupta_00000029.jpg
Now playing
01:51
This is your brain on heroin
NEW LONDON, CT - MARCH 23:  A heroin user prepares to inject himself on March 23, 2016 in New London, CT. Communities nationwide are struggling with the unprecidented heroin and opioid pain pill epidemic. On March 15, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), announced guidelines for doctors to reduce the amount of opioid painkillers prescribed nationwide, in an effort to curb the epidemic. The CDC estimates that most new heroin addicts first became hooked on prescription pain medication before graduating to heroin, which is stronger and cheaper.  (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
PHOTO: John Moore/Getty Images
NEW LONDON, CT - MARCH 23: A heroin user prepares to inject himself on March 23, 2016 in New London, CT. Communities nationwide are struggling with the unprecidented heroin and opioid pain pill epidemic. On March 15, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), announced guidelines for doctors to reduce the amount of opioid painkillers prescribed nationwide, in an effort to curb the epidemic. The CDC estimates that most new heroin addicts first became hooked on prescription pain medication before graduating to heroin, which is stronger and cheaper. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:46
52 overdose calls in 32 hours
opioids addiction orig nws_00000613.jpg
opioids addiction orig nws_00000613.jpg
Now playing
01:09
Why are opioids so addictive?
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
01:45
Where does America's heroin come from?
Now playing
03:14
Opioids create generation of American orphans
opioids ohio dr ann difrangia costello intv _00002220.jpg
PHOTO: CNN
opioids ohio dr ann difrangia costello intv _00002220.jpg
Now playing
02:15
Doctor describes opioid crisis as 'overwhelming'
PHOTO: Georgia Bureau of Investigation
Now playing
02:08
Deaths from synthetic opioids on the rise
Police found an Indiana mother who overdosed on heroin passed out in car.
PHOTO: Hope Police Department
Police found an Indiana mother who overdosed on heroin passed out in car.
Now playing
01:48
(2016) Mom overdoses in car with baby in backseat
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
03:27
More heroin deaths than gun homicides in US
PHOTO: Zero Point Zero
Now playing
01:36
Bourdain follows path of heroin in America
heroin overdose Ron Hiers recovery nccorig_00004526.jpg
heroin overdose Ron Hiers recovery nccorig_00004526.jpg
Now playing
02:52
Heroin addict watches himself hit rock bottom
Now playing
04:36
How heroin gets across the border
Now playing
03:38
One small lab's big fight against heroin
Now playing
04:52
From honor student to heroin addict
Opioid generic
PHOTO: CNN
Opioid generic
Now playing
03:14
Overdose cases spike in Louisville

Overdoses on the rise

Huntington is in Cabell County, where there have been at least 440 overdoses this year. Twenty-six of those were fatal, said Scott Lemley, an investigator with the Huntington Police department.

There were 413 overdoses countywide during the same period last year. But there were 35 deaths in the county over the first half of last year, so there’s been a 26% decrease, according to Lemley.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest data, from 2014, West Virginia has the highest rate of drug overdose death in the country.

“It’s way too early to tell what the heroin in these latest cases was laced, with but I suspect it was fentanyl and maybe something else,” said Lemley. “A majority of the overdoses cases are laced with fentanyl, Xanax or something. It’s very rare to find pure heroin these days.”

A third of the overdoses deaths in Cabell County are probably related to fentanyl, according to Lemley.

’A very miserable existence’

The Cabell-Huntington Health Department was not directly involved with the latest overdoses but has been keeping track of the overdose statistics and has been working on solutions to the drug problem in the area.

PHOTO: USCG/ Brandon Murray
Now playing
00:46
Coast Guard seizes $47M in drugs
PHOTO: CNN/FACEBOOK/TEXAS DEPT OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE
Now playing
00:41
$18M of cocaine hidden in bananas
An undated handout photo obtained on July 3, 2016, shows a large diamante-encrusted horse head from Mexico from which New Zealand police said they have seized a record 10 million USD worth of cocaine hidden inside. 
The largest-ever haul of the drug in New Zealand has been linked to the rebuild of the city of Christchurch, severely damaged in a 2011 earthquake, and the Australian market. / AFP / STR        (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
PHOTO: STR/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
An undated handout photo obtained on July 3, 2016, shows a large diamante-encrusted horse head from Mexico from which New Zealand police said they have seized a record 10 million USD worth of cocaine hidden inside. The largest-ever haul of the drug in New Zealand has been linked to the rebuild of the city of Christchurch, severely damaged in a 2011 earthquake, and the Australian market. / AFP / STR (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
00:45
Millions of dollars of cocaine found in bejeweled head
cocaine record haul Coast Guard nccorig_00012704.jpg
cocaine record haul Coast Guard nccorig_00012704.jpg
Now playing
01:59
Coast Guard brings home record cocaine haul
PHOTO: Orange County Jail
Now playing
00:58