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Growing Number Of First Responders Accidentally Ingesting Opioids

PHILADELPHIA (CBS)--There have been a growing number of police and first responders who accidentally ingest opioids when they respond to drug scenes.

Ohio police officer Chris Green accidentally overdosed on fentanyl during a traffic stop May 14th.

He was helping arrest two men on alleged drug charges who were in a car.

Officer Green wore a mask and gloves at the scene, but when he got back to the police station he noticed powder on his jacket, brushed it off and collapsed an hour later.

"Never dreamed that something dangerous would be such minutiae piece of powder," said Green.

Luckily EMT's were nearby to administer the opioid antidote naloxone.

2 Officers Rushed To Hospital After Being Exposed To Possible Heroin

There was a similar incident in Westmoreland County in Western Pennsylvania, where a police officer on a drug stop inhaled heroin or fentanyl causing a fast heartbeat. He too was 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.

Stander says 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," said Stander.

Powdered opioids like heroin and fentanyl are so dangerous and now spreading across the country so fast.

The DEA made a video warning police and emergency responders of the risks.

"As long as this stuff is on the street,  our men and women and first responders are going to be bumping into it and it's extraordinary dangerous for them," said Chuck Rosenberg, with the DEA.

The DEA says 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.


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