Officers follow new protocol when in contact with fentanyl
The opioid known as fentanyl is supposed to act as a narcotic to treat severe pain.
Officers in Eau Claire have seen an uptick in abuse overdoses, bringing them in close contact with the substance.
“We have had fentanyl overdoses right here in the City of Eau Claire and I won't say they're common, but they are way more common than what we would like to see. Fentanyl is 50 times more potent than heroin, and the synthetic opioid, carfentanil, is actually 100 more potent than fentanyl itself,” says Officer Kyle Roder with the Eau Claire Police Department.
Roder says there is a new protocol when it comes to handling the substance.
“Because of the toxicity of this, we have gone to a process where we have to have two officers now handling it, when it's being opened or packaged or tested. We have to have an officer that is not in the immediate area but is still monitoring the situation in case the first officer does have a reaction to it,” says Roder.
Jon Schultz with Eau Claire Fire and Rescue says first responders also have guidelines to follow.
“We've made it known to the crews as what to be looking out for. If they see a white powdery substance on tables and counters, they make sure to be careful about where they're setting bags. Clothing is the same way. If you're kneeling down, you have to make sure you're not getting substances on your clothing,” says Schultz.
Although EMS crews do have an antidote for the substance, they're always prepared for any type of encounter.
“You always have to be aware of your surroundings. It doesn't matter if it's a drug or its people, or weapons on a person. You always have to be aware of your surroundings,” says Schultz.
For those who are using prescription fentanyl, you're asked to dispose of patches at drug drop off sites rather than throwing them away at home. The FDA says fentanyl patches can be flushed down the toilet.