Just a small amount of the powdered drug fentanyl was enough to cause a police officer in Ohio to overdose on the substance after he got it on his bare hand. This is not the first story of a non-drug user suffering an accidental overdose from coming in contact with the drug fentanyl.
This type of overdose has become so prevalent that the drug fentanyl has changed the way first responders do their jobs, reports The Atlantic. Just that tiny puff of powder that becomes airborne when closing a plastic bag containing the drug is enough to cause a full-grown adult to overdose if it is accidentally inhaled.
In Officer Chris Green’s case, he didn’t inhale the drug, it was absorbed through his skin after he brushed some white powder off his shirt with his bare hand. In the town of East Liverpool, Ohio, Officer Green responded to a traffic stop on Friday that turned into a drug bust.
Police observed 25-year-old Justin Buckle perform what they believed to be a drug transaction from behind the wheel of his Monte Carlo, prompting the police to make the move of blocking his car in. It was at this time that Buckle and his passenger attempted to destroy the drug evidence by emptying the packet containing the fentanyl drug onto the carpet of the car floor.
Police found white powder on the car seat and mashed into the carpet on the floor of the automobile. It was also all over the suspect’s shoes and clothes. Officer Green used the correct precautions while searching the vehicle. This included wearing gloves and a mask while searching the car, but at some point, he must have brushed up against the powered drug and got some on his shirt, according to WKBN 27 First News.
Back at the station, it was one of his fellow officers who drew attention to the white powder on Green’s shirt. Green did what most people would do and that was to nonchalantly brush it off with his hand. About an hour later, Green passed out and was suffering from an overdose of the drug fentanyl.
An ambulance was called, but it would eventually take four doses of Narcan to bring Chis Green back to consciousness after that powder was absorbed through the skin on his hand. One dose of the drug Narcan was administered to the officer by the first responders. He received three more doses of Narcan at the hospital, according to WKBN.
Captain Patrick Wright of the East Liverpool Police Department reported that as of Sunday, Officer Green was “fine.” The captain told reporters, “We changed our procedures to where we used to field test drugs,” Wright said. “We don’t do that any longer because of accidental exposures.” He said that this incident was an example of how police are forced to change the way they do their jobs do to this scary drug epidemic.
Because of the toxicity of the drug fentanyl, police are no longer testing substances in the field. It wasn’t that long ago when police would do a chemical test right there at the scene as soon as a substance was confiscated so they would know what type of drug they were dealing with. This entails putting a small amount of the confiscated drug into a vial containing chemicals. The color change of the contents of that vial would indicate what type of drug was involved in the bust.
That type of testing could prove deadly today if the drug police stumble upon happens to be fentanyl. A small amount of powder escaping the package would act like dust in the air and could easily be inhaled by the responding officers. New Hampshire State Police recently issued a warning for anyone who may accidentally come in contact with this drug. According to The Atlantic, “the warning was especially a shout out for police officers, EMTs, forensic lab technicians, and even funeral directors.”
Last fall, the DEA created a video warning of the dangers of the drug fentanyl for anyone who handles it. The video was made for law enforcement members as part of an official warning on this drug, which is seen below. It shows the amount of fentanyl that could prove deadly and it is such a tiny amount that it looks like a few morsels of salt or sugar.
The video also contains the testimony of two police officers who overdosed on the drug just by handling it. One of the dangers of this drug is that the drug dealers might not realize that the drug they are selling is fentanyl or has fentanyl mixed in as one of its ingredients. They also stress this is a drug deadly to animals as well, like their K9 dogs.
[Featured Image by Cliff Owen/AP Images]