Milwaukee County overdose deaths; harm reduction vending machines installed

With high numbers of overdose deaths in Milwaukee County, members of the community are pushing for more access to life-saving resources.

Local activist and Team HAVOC member Pancho Mercado is working to help people with opioid addiction.

"Free Narcan, fentanyl testing strips and gun locks," Mercado said. "It affected me to the point where I was like, I got to do something."

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It's a reality he said is visible between the Mitchell and Clarke Square parks neighborhoods that have seen a high number of overdose cases. Numbers from Milwaukee County show a nearly 60% uptick in overdose deaths from 2016 to 2020, a percentage that has kept going up.

"Today we are having a meeting to identify what a vending machine is and what it's going to be used for," Mercado said. "What we aim to do is save a life."

Vending machines are installed in different locations throughout the county and having easy access to these products, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, is what they're pushing for.


Harm reduction vending machines; Milwaukee County urges businesses to host

Milwaukee County leaders are encouraging businesses and organizations on Tuesday, Jan. 23 to apply to host a Harm Reduction Vending Machines.

County officials want to see a harm-reduction vending machine at Mitchell Park that will allow people to have around-the-clock access. 

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Startina White, a community-based peer specialist, said similar machines have shown positive results after six months of offering it in her location.

"I think that they should have them in grocery stores and gas stations," said White, Wisconsin Peer Specialists assistant director. "I think that they should be almost everywhere."

It’s a service that is free, in order to save lives.

"In the south side we say it takes a plaza," Mercado said. "We all have to come together and say what can we do."