Dangers of fentanyl for law enforcement agencies, first responders

HOUSTON – A warning for law enforcement agencies and first responders who rush to crime scenes where drugs are involved: They could be at risk for an overdose -- just by doing their job.

A mere sprinkle of fentanyl can take down two grown men, since the synthetic opioid is 40 to 50 times more powerful than heroin. It's not just drug abusers who overdose.

Increasingly, it is firefighters, emergency medical technicians and police officers who accidentally breathed in fentanyl while collecting crime scene evidence.

Now law enforcement agencies are urging officers never to test drugs in the field. A drug called naloxone can reverse opioid overdoses but there's concern it's no match for synthetic opioids that continue to get stronger.

"Their potency is so high that our usual antidotes may not work or we may need so many doses of the usual antidotes that the supply is short," said Dr. Anne Schuchat, the acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

An estimated 90 people in this country die every day from opioid drugs. Fentanyl can also be deadly to police dogs.