Fentanyl exposure puts police at risk of accidental overdose

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - A major concern for police officers around the county is the exposure to fentanyl.

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

A 33-year-old Cleveland police officer was exposed to the drug Wednesday morning while serving a search warrant on Neff Road.

The officer showed signs of skin exposure and inhalation effects of possible fentanyl exposure. Police say the officer was conscious and breathing and was taken to the hospital for precautionary measures.

Lt. Michael Connelly with the Cleveland Narcotics Unit said the officer exposed was wearing gloves and a mask.

"Luckily, he recognized what was happening to him and alerted his partners, they called EMS and he went to Euclid hospital where he was treated and released and everything was OK. You have to be very vigilant. The number one thing is fentanyl can kill you," said Lt. Connelly.

Officers on the streets have a higher potential of being exposed to the powerful opioid.

"Just a minute amount of fentanyl that it takes to cause an overdose makes that chance of exposure higher. Just a few grains of fentanyl can overdose a full-size man," said Lt. Connelly.

Lt. Connelly said officers need to make sure they use gloves, mask and educate themselves.

In 2016, there were at least 517 deaths from heroin/fentanyl or combined which was more than double the 228 from 2015.


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