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Officers Nearly Overdose After Getting A Face Full Of Fentanyl

REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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Police officers conducting a traffic stop nearly suffered opioid overdoses after being exposed to the potent painkiller fentanyl in a New Hampshire community.

Two deputies with the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office made a veichle stop Monday night and became suspicious the woman inside might be carrying drugs in a pill bottle in her center console. They opened the container, exposing an unwrapped powder later confirmed to be fentanyl, which both officers subsequently inhaled, reports WMUR.

The pair began feeling sick and were rushed to the Exeter Hospital where they received a dose of the overdose reversal drug Narcan. Both sheriff’s deputies were released and are already back on the job.

“They opened the container, at which point the powdery substance that was inside became airborne,” Maj. Darin Melanson said Friday, according to WMUR. “That’s unusual, because normally it’s usually in plastic wrap or something like that, but in this case, it was a loose powder.”

First responders are increasingly being exposed to potent narcotics like fentanyl, a synthetic painkiller roughly 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine, and other, even more powerful analogs of the substance. A firefighter exposed to opioids suffered an overdose behind the wheel of an ambulance while driving an overdose patient to the hospital in Ohio Nov. 9.

The firefighter-paramedic was in the ambulance when he began to feel ill and have vision problems. His partner managed to take control of the veichle and safely stop it before administering a dose of the overdose reversal drug Narcan to his partner. The overdose patient and the firefighter were subsequently taken to the hospital for treatment, where another six firefighters were decontaminated for exposure using showers.

The Drug Enforcement Administration issued new guidance to first responders across the country in June on how to handle heroin and other narcotics due to the increasing prevalence of fentanyl.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein warned it only takes two milligrams of fentanyl, “the equivalent of a few grains of table salt,” to cause a fatal overdose.

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