Ohio officer, Chris Green, had a brush with the dangerous opioid fentanyl when the drug was absorbed through his skin. He overdosed on Friday night and had to be revived with not one but four doses of Narcan, the life-saving overdose reversal medication.
Green and another officer were responding to what was thought to be a drug transaction in East Liverpool on Friday evening involving two young men, Justin Buckle and Cortez Collins.
“We think they were trying to flee, but they were blocked in,” said East Liverpool Captain Patrick Wright. “Once they got blocked in, they tried to dispose of the evidence in the vehicle … There was white powder on the seat, on the floor, on the guys’ shoes and on his clothing.”1
Officer Green followed drug handling protocol by wearing protective gloves and a mask. When he got back to the station, another officer noticed he had some of the white powder (fentanyl) on his shirt.
“Just out of instinct, he tried to brush it off — not thinking,” Wright said. An hour later, Green experienced an overdose at the station.
Officer Green is said to be in stable condition.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time that fentanyl has posed a threat to law enforcement and first responders.
In August, two Atlantic County, New Jersey, detectives were hospitalized after inhaling the pain killer when a puff of it escaped from a plastic bag of heroin and cocaine during a field test.
“I felt like my body was shutting down,” Detective Eric Price said of the experience. “I thought I was dying.”2
Even police K-9’s have been at risk. Back in November, a Florida police dog overdosed on fentanyl after a drug raid.
“If fentanyl is loose in an environment, it can spread out where a dog can absorb it through his pads. He could sniff it up through his jowls,” Weiman said.
“And fentanyl is so toxic, so strong that the very smallest amount of it — that you couldn’t even see — could affect the dog. You wouldn’t know they’ve even ingested it.”3
It’s just another way in which police are being forced to take a new approach to their job when it comes to drug-related cases and demonstrates the need for having naloxone on hand at all times.