(CBS) – A growing number of first responders are accidentally ingesting opioids while responding to drug calls.
Ohio police officer Chris Green accidentally overdosed on fentanyl during a traffic stop May 14. He was helping arrest two men on alleged drug charges who were in a car.
While on the scene Officer Green wore a mask and gloves, but once back at the station he noticed powder on his jacket and just brushed it off. An hour later Green collapsed. CBS Philly reports.
“Never dreamed that something dangerous would be such minutiae piece of powder,” Green said.
Luckily EMT’s were nearby to administer the opioid antidote, naloxone.
A similar incident occurred in Pennsylvania where a police officer on a drug stop accidentally inhaled heroin or fentanyl. The officer’s heartbeat sped up and he had to be revived with naloxone.
“It’s very easily absorbed in skin, inhaled through the mouth, it really goes in any way you want it to go,” said Dr. Eric Stander, emergency department chief at Hahnemann Hospital, in Philadelphia.
Stander said powdered forms of opioids can be easily ingested accidentally and quickly cause people to feel disoriented.
“It can also affect blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate that’s the most dangerous,” Stander said.
The DEA made a video warning police and emergency responders of the risks.
The DEA said street fentanyl is 40 to 50 times more powerful than heroin, which makes accidental overdoses so much more dangerous for first responders. Even when they wear protective gear like gloves and masks, it’s not always enough.