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Airborne Heroin Sends Three First Responders To The Hospital

REUTERS/US DEA/Handout via Reuters

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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A police officer and two emergency responders fell ill and went to a hospital for overdose treatment after being exposed to heroin mixed with a fatal compound.

A sheriff’s deputy in Harford County, Md. responding to an overdose call Friday night started to feel sick while working to revive the person, who they suspect was on a mixture of heroin and fentanyl, the opiate-based painkiller roughly 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine. EMTs at the scene quickly gave the officer a dose of Narcan, the overdose reversal drug, before rushing him to the hospital, reports Fox 8.

After working on the officer, one of the EMTs also began feeling sick and was taken to the hospital for overdose treatment. Another first responder later fell ill at the hospital, suffering the same symptoms as his peers. Authorities are speculating on how the officer and EMTs became exposed to the deadly mixture, but have no definitive answers.

“Maybe it aerosolized,” Rich Gardiner, spokesman for the Harford County Volunteer Fire and EMS Association, told Fox 8. “This new designer stuff. We don’t even know what we’re walking into now.”

The officer and EMTs were successfully treated and released from the hospital. A police officer involved in an Ohio roadside heroin bust May 12 recently encountered a similar situation when he got powder all over his uniform during a search of a suspect’s car.

An hour later, back at the police station, the officer passed out and became unresponsive. Fellow officers suspected he was suffering an overdose from fentanyl and gave him a dose of Narcan. It took emergency responders multiple attempts to revive Green.

Less than half a teaspoon of pure fentanyl is enough to kill 10 people.

The presence of powerful substances like fentanyl is a major problem for police across the country conducting drug raids. In the chaos of a major drug bust, the powder can go airborne, poisoning exposed officers. Police departments throughout the U.S. are now cautioned to avoid field-testing due to the risk of exposure to potent ingredients.

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Steve Birr