A Deadly Danger for Law Enforcement and First Responders in the War on Opioid Epidemic

first responder dangers, law enforcement protection, The opioid epidemic rages on across the nation, with law enforcement and other emergency responders on the front lines, battling to save the lives of the countless number of overdose victims. Naloxone has become standard law enforcement gear in many communities, as police are called on or find high numbers of overdose victims on a daily basis. As officials fight to stop the epidemic, drug traffickers and dealers are one step ahead, coming up with newer, more powerful drugs to flood the streets with. But the newest opioid they are spreading is deadly not only to the addicts who take it but also to emergency responders trying to save their lives.

Carfentanil, a powerful animal tranquilizer, has begun showing up in cities across the country. The drug is the most potent commercial opioid in the world and is said to be 10,000 times stronger than morphine. A 10-milligram dose of the drug can kill a 15,000-pound elephant. That same dosage – diluted and cut up – could kill 500 people. Drug traffickers are mixing the drug with heroin. In some cases, they even disguise it as heroin.

One kilogram of the drug will provide 50 million doses to drug addicts. That was the amount in a package that Canadian Border Services Agency recently intercepted. The drugs, shipped from China, had been destined for Calgary. In this country, Ohio appears to be “port-of-call” for the drug’s entry. The drug has also shown up in Florida and Kentucky.

But not only is the drug deadly to those who inject it, it can also be deadly to anyone who comes in contact with the drug physically since it can be absorbed into the skin. Veterinarians who work with carfentanil use protective masks, gloves, and aprons. A dose as small as the size of a grain of salt is enough to kill a person.

This puts first responders and law enforcement who arrive at the scene of an overdose in serious – if not deadly – danger. Officials have begun calling on law enforcement to no longer perform field testing on drugs they find at the scene because of the potentially fatal risks.

It is critical that all emergency responders are provided with the proper training and equipment to protect themselves from all the potential hazards they face in the field. Emergency Film Group offers several programs which can assist in that training. Check out our extensive training library here. . .

 

Sources:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2016/08/12/a-new-front-in-the-opioid-war-elephant-tranquilizer/

http://www.vice.com/read/everything-we-know-about-carfentanil

http://www.emergencymgmt.com/health/State-warns-first-responders-about-deadly-opioid-drug.html

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