STRATHROY, ONT. -- In a community of 20,000 people, a national epidemic has taken a grisly toll this week, and the COVID-19 pandemic is not a direct player.

This time it'ss fentanyl that’s taken a deadly toll.

“In the last 24 hours, we had four overdoses. One of them proved to be fatal,” says Strathroy-Cardoc Police Const. Mark Thuss.

“It’s not just a big city problem,” he adds in solemn frustration.

While fentanyl has long been present in the area, Thuss says this case, pinned on a bad batch of the drug, is above alarming.

He says it has shaken first responders.

“It’s horrible to see someone die because of this. That’s why we felt it was important we get this message out there.”

The message is targeted at multiple areas of the population, but especially those at risk.

“We talk to the people that are all involved in this, and we try to find out where they’ve obtained these drugs. Just to get them that message that this is dangerous.”

While larger centres, such as London, have agencies that can reach those at street level, in Strathroy-Caradoc resources are limited.

And the vast majority of those in place operate on reduced hours.

For example, on a Friday, few are open.

It’s a problem recognized by a new faith-based youth drop-in centre. '37 Frank Street' just opened its doors, and currently does not operate on Fridays.

But operator David Berdan says he hopes to add the day as early as next week to meet the need, “There is nothing on a Friday and very little for youth and men.'

Berdan states, by telephone, he hopes other centres will see the need “to open more than two days a week."

Meanwhile, police are hoping the public will lead them to the source of the fentanyl that took the life of a 50-year-old man, and nearly those of three other people, between the ages of 28 and 50.

Naloxone was used to revive those who survived.