Fentanyl is a potent synthetic opioid that is fast becoming a drug of choice for many individuals in the United States. Even a small amount of the drug can cause an overdose or death. With its increasing popularity comes a rise in the risks to those who work with it, especially first responders who may encounter the drug during emergencies. In this blog post, we’ll explore what fentanyl is and how its use is different from that of other opioids. We’ll also discuss how first responders are exposed to it and the risks associated with fentanyl exposure.
If you're dealing with an emergency, Bio-One of Modesto’s fentanyl remediation team can help remove any traces of the drug from homes, businesses, or other areas that have been exposed.
What is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent. It’s used medically to manage pain in patients with chronic conditions like cancer and to treat severe pains, such as those experienced during surgery. Fentanyl is also sold illegally on the street. It is often mixed with other drugs like heroin and cocaine and sold to unsuspecting buyers. Because of its potency, it presents a high risk of overdose and death, even in small doses.
Why Has It Become Such an Epidemic In the United States?
Unfortunately, this accessibility and affordability have contributed to the rise in fentanyl-related overdoses and deaths in recent years. In 2022, fentanyl was involved in over 109,680 overdose deaths in the United States.
The drug is relatively easy to produce, making it readily available on the streets. It’s also cheaper than other opioids like heroin and prescription painkillers, making it an attractive option for those struggling with addiction.
First Responders Are at Higher Risk of Fentanyl Exposure
Police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical technicians can come into contact with fentanyl during their work. Fentanyl can be found in various forms, including powders, pills, and patches. Accidental exposure through inhalation or skin contact can cause respiratory distress, dizziness, and even death. Anyone who handles fentanyl or disposes of it, even with proper protective gear is at risk.
First responders face some of the greatest risks for exposure in the line of duty. It is vital to protect first responders from the dangers of fentanyl exposure and to clean up contaminated areas quickly and effectively to prevent further contamination.
What To Do in Case of Accidental Exposure and Overdose
If you or someone you know has been exposed to fentanyl, it is essential to seek medical attention immediately. Call 911 and inform them of the potential exposure to fentanyl. If possible, move away from the contaminated area and wait for first responders to arrive.
In the case of a suspected overdose, administering naloxone (also known as Narcan) can reverse the effects of fentanyl and save a life. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist medication that can quickly reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, including respiratory distress.
How Bio-One of Modesto Can Help
Fentanyl exposure is a significant concern for first responders who come into contact with it while on duty. The potency of the drug makes it highly dangerous and presents potential health hazards.
Bio-One of Modesto provides fentanyl remediation services to assist in the cleanup of homes, businesses, or other areas contaminated with drugs. Our trained and certified team uses specialized equipment and protocols to remove traces of fentanyl and other drugs from affected areas. Our services include assessments, treatments, and follow-up testing to ensure the affected areas are entirely free from drugs and contamination.
As drug use continues to increase, fentanyl exposure risks will continue to rise, and it is essential to take precautions and seek expert help when encountering these situations.