Police, Paramedics Warned to Wear Masks to Prevent Accidental Exposure to Carfentanil in Illegal Drugs

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The Days of Tasting a Dab of White Power Are Long Over

Police and firefighter/paramedics are being warned about being exposed to illegal drugs contaminated with Carfentanil. Inhaled powder from the drug, spilled on a victim’s clothing or at an emergency scene could potentially incapacitate and kill rescuers. Many police officers are assigned to bring naloxone kits to the scene of an overdose and administer the dosage from a kit. Of course, firefighter/paramedics for years have been called to attempt to revive victims of narcotic overdoses. Fentanyl, and its related compounds, come in several forms including powder, blotter paper, tablets, and spray.

Vancouver,Canada authorities recorded the first fatal overdose of carfentanil on November 17, 2016.

Paramedics of the Ottawa Paramedic Service (Canada) have been warned to wear masks while helping people with suspected overdoses because carfentanil is a fine powder that can easily become airborne. There have been cases in the United States where paramedics have treated police who inhaled airborne carfentanil, said Ottawa paramedic spokesperson J.P. Trottier. Police in the United States were alerted about the hazards of carfentanil in September 2016 by the DEA.

Two Atlantic County, New Jersey detectives said they felt like they were dying after being exposed to a very small amount of powder that puffed up in the air. One detective said he felt like his body was shutting down and that he was dying. Another detective said he felt very disoriented.

Last week the Cook County Medical Examiner announced that a 46-year-old man was the first known death by Carfentanil, which was detected in the victim’s system. The Chicago man’s toxicology testing discovered the drug Carfentanil — a fentanyl analog that is 10,000 times more potent than morphine, and is used by veterinarians to immobilize large animals (i.e., elephant tranquilizer). According to the Medical Examiner’s office, Cargentanil had never before been detected in a Cook County Medical Examiner’s investigation.

Fentanyl, which is about 100 times more powerful than morphine, has a history in Cook County, and has caused deaths. There were over 500 heroin and fentanyl deaths in Cook County in 2015. Fentanyl often requires more than one antidote dose of Naloxone. The antidote, also known as Narcan, might bring an overdose victim rapidly out of a heroin overdose, but one antidote dose for fentanyl might not do anything on the first dose. Carfentanil might be impossible to remedy with available resources of antidote. The narcotic Carfentanil is intended for large mammals, like elephants, deer, and moose. Normal dosages of Carfentanil can even accidentally kill a moose. In a study of 92 free-ranging moose, the average time to immobilize a moose was 5 minutes with at least 3 mg of WILDIL (Carfentanil citrate). The dosage of the Carfentanil was as little at 0.006 to 0.014 mg/kg. Accidentally, six of the moose died in the study.

This week, Toronto police announced that carfentanil was discovered mixed with a seized drug labeled as heroin, but the white powder was cocaine mixed with carfentanil. Waterloo Region Police issued an alert that counterfeit pills made to look like OxyContin contained carfentanil.

Carfentanil has been linked to 15 deaths in Alberta.

Carfentanil is 100 times more potent than fentanyl. An amount of fentanyl the size of two grains of salt can be fatal, according to Ottawa Public Health, which last month launched StopOverdoseOttawa.ca.

Users of cocaine spiked with carfentanil hope for a stimulant, but instead could be knocked out dead. Three or four doses of the antidote Naloxone might not be enough.

Fentanyl analogs are also known to have killed hundreds of people throughout Europe and the former Soviet republics. Use began in Estonia in the early 2000s during a heroin shortage, and novel derivatives continue to be discovered by researchers. Estonia has the highest death rate from drug overdoses in Europe. The slang term for fentanyl analogues is China white, Persian white or Afghan — misnomers intended to be intriguing cover for a killer powder synthesized in clandestine labs nearby in Russia. Another slang name for fentanyl analogues is flatline. Currently Fentanyl

Fentanyl and analogues are in the lists of Schedule I and Schedule II drugs as defined by the United States Controlled Substances Act. Schedule II drugs have currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. Schedule I drugs have no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and have no accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.

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