Seven first responders at the scene of a drug overdose in Delaware suffered exposure to the deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl after a fan blew the powder into the air.
Officers with the Wilmington Police Department in Delaware responded to the fatal overdose of a 36-year-old woman at a residence on West Fourth Street Thursday evening. A family member present in the home turned on a fan, accidentally blowing a pile of fentanyl powder onto five Wilmington firefighters and two police officers attempting to revive the woman, reported the Delaware News Journal.
Authorities rushed the personnel to a local hospital where they were treated for fentanyl exposure and subsequently released. (RELATED: Suspect Stabs Officer With Heroin Needle While Trying To Flee A Drug Den)
The influx of the synthetic opioid into communities throughout the country is increasingly putting the lives of first responders at risk. Only 2 milligrams of fentanyl can cause an adult to suffer a fatal overdose.
“There’s a whole host of things that can go wrong,” said Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent Patrick Trainor, according to Delaware Online. “We’re not encountering it under controlled lab settings. We’re dealing with people selling it and packing it. The drug dealers themselves often don’t know what they’re encountering.”
Delaware continues to be battered by the opioid, particularly due to the widespread presence of fentanyl. Officials say fentanyl was involved in roughly 61 percent of all drug overdose deaths across Delaware in 2017.
Synthetic opioids like fentanyl killed roughly 27,000 people across the U.S. in 2017, up from roughly 19,413 in 2016 and 9,580 lives in 2015, according to a July report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Overall, drug overdoses are the leading cause of accidental death for Americans under age 50, killing more than 64,000 people in 2016, according to the CDC. Officials say preliminary data shows drug overdoses killed roughly 72,000 people across the U.S. in 2017.
The epidemic is contributing to declining life expectancy in the U.S., officials say. Life expectancy dropped for the second consecutive year in 2016 for the first time since an outbreak of influenza in 1962 and 1963.
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