Tampa firefighters struggle with Spice cases

Posted at 6:12 PM, Apr 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-15 18:12:52-04
A growing drug trend that is throwing people into fits of rage and seizures is keeping Tampa Firefighters busy.
ABC Action News did a ride along with Tampa Fire Rescue to learn more about the recent spike in Spice cases and their struggle to keep up with them. 
Spice, a synthetic marijuana, can have serious effects on people.
According to body camera footage from Pasco Deputies, it caused a man to resist officers even after he was tased three times and pepper sprayed. 
Spice calls are also keeping Tampa firefighters busy.  It's a huge problem at the downtown bus station.
“Its just terrible to see three, four, five people just sitting there vomiting," said bus rider Trader Bell. "They’re laying out everywhere and it's just a mess."
We’re told the problem has been getting even worse in recent months. 
“While we’re on a call, we’re usually passing another one and getting a call right after we leave this one,” said Tampa Fire Rescue Captain Stephen White. 
District one fire rescue has responded to more than 30 calls within the past week.
They’re on track to surpass March’s spice calls of more than a 100.
That’s a huge spike from the departments 17 calls in February. 
“Our station alone is probably doing at least that,"  said Capt. White. " Then as we’re out on calls other stations are having to come into the downtown area." 
The problem is the base ingredient in Spice isn’t illegal; but batches mixed with bad chemicals is. Once drug makers know what’s outlawed they make a new batch with different ingredients.
“Bleach, rat poison, fertilizer all kinds of things they’re lacing it with. That’s why we don’t know what's going to happen to each individual person,” said Capt. White. 
Johnny Hall says the Spice he smokes doesn’t affect him like others.
"It just mellows me out," said Hall. "Actually, they say I'm different from everyone else. I really don’t know.”
Edgin Tek’s cafe is across the street from the bus station. He says the drug use is ruining his business.
“Every single day I see zombie looking, lost people. Looks like third world we don’t have control over this issue,” said Tek. 
“It does hinder our response times to other calls where people might be having a stroke or a heart attack or something of that nature,” said White. 
Like many local counties, Tampa City leaders passed an ordinance fining convenience stores selling synthetic drugs like Spice and K2, but its still a huge problem underground.