Photo: White House

Interagency group offers fentanyl safety recommendations for first responders

November 6, 2017

Washington – A Federal Interagency Working Group coordinated by the White House National Security Council has developed safety recommendations for first responders exposed to fentanyl, a synthetic opioid considered up to 50 times more potent than heroin.

Available in poster form, the recommendations provide law enforcement as well as fire, rescue and emergency personnel with guidelines for protection from fentanyl exposure, potential actions to take if exposed and what to do if a responder or partner shows symptoms of intoxication. Signs of fentanyl intoxication include slow breathing, absence of breathing, drowsiness or unresponsiveness, and constricted or pinpoint pupils.

Fentanyl may be present in numerous forms, including powder, tablets, capsules, solutions and rocks, the resource states. Inhalation of an airborne powder is most likely to lead to harmful effects but is a less likely occurrence than skin contact. The resource advises workers who suspect fentanyl exposure to wear personal protective equipment such as gloves.

The working group – comprising representatives from 10 agencies, including NIOSH – also offers a guide to the ongoing opioid epidemic, including updates on the work of President Donald Trump’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis.