First responders simulate fentanyl hazmat situation for training
DUBLIN, Va. (WSET) -- It takes just a grain or two of fentanyl to kill a person.
At a special training session, put on by the Drug Enforcement Agency and Virginia State Police, first responders practiced how to handle a call where there is fentanyl.
Fentanyl is extremely dangerous because the fragments are extremely small and can be inhaled or passed on through clothing.
Joe Bozenko, a Senior Research Chemist with the DEA explained, even hours later, it is still deadly, saying "Over the course of time, it does not lose its potency. It can sit on a surface and still remain just a potent and just as dangerous."
That's scary for Dublin Police Chief Dennis Lambert. He said it's been on his mind. "About 2 days ago, myself and the sheriff, and chiefs and sheriffs all over the place, we met and was talking about how do we get the Narcan to protect our officers," said Lambert.
While opioids are a problem in central and southwest Virginia, for the most part, fentanyl hasn't made it to the New River Valley-yet.
That is why Chief Lambert decided to have his team attend the region's first hazmat training for the synthetic opioid.
4 different crews suited up- learning how to work together when it comes to fentanyl. Michael Barbuti, the Special Agent in Charge for the DEA Virginia explained, "We had a scenario where EMTs were called to respond to people who were unresponsive. They themselves got exposed to illicit fentanyl. Hazmat team was called in to access and decontaminate people."
This was a through simulation, even in below freezing weather, people were hosed off before being loaded into an ambulance to go to the hospital.
"I think a lot of officers are surprised by how many, just a few grains can kill you," remarked Lambert.
Which is exactly why the DEA held this simulation- to help first responders prepare for this deadly new drug.
Bozenko put is simply, saying "We all want to go home at the end of the day."
More of these training sessions are scheduled for the Mid-Atlantic region in the coming months.