GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – The Greenville County Coroner’s Office has investigators who are first responders, but they must often handle one of the worst jobs.

“We’re having to make that knock on the door at 2 or 3 in the morning to tell someone that they lost their loved one,” Shelton England, Senior Deputy Coroner in Greenville County, said.

A county coroner must account for every death in their jurisdiction and the number of fatalities from drug use, principally from fentanyl, has become staggering.

Greenville Co. Coroner Mobile Substance Abuse Education trailer

England said fentanyl has become the number two cause of fatalities in Greenville County behind natural deaths.

The number of fentanyl-related deaths in 2021 was 258. The number was already above 300 by the middle of November this year.

“In many cases it’s someone’s first time trying something with fentanyl being involved and they have no idea of what’s in there or not. They try it once and end up dying”

That’s one of the reasons the coroner’s office has partnered with The Phoenix Center to create a Mobile Substance Abuse Education trailer.

The trailer wasn’t being used by the county and a grant to the Phoenix Center helped equip it.

Since being launched in April 2021, the trailer has been visited by about 4,000 people. You’ll often see it at churches, schools and other community events.

It has interactive exhibits, but it’s also a place where people suffering from substance abuse problems can get immediate help.

“If someone came up and wanted help or assistance, we don’t push those people away to The Phoenix Center on Monday,” according to Shelton.

“The Phoenix Center staff can actually start the process of getting them help right away.”