A firefighter exposed to opioids suffered an overdose behind the wheel of an ambulance while driving an overdose patient to the hospital in Ohio.
The firefighter-paramedic, who responded to an overdose call Thursday night in Fairborn, was in the ambulance when he began to feel ill and have vision problems.
The overdose patient and the firefighter were subsequently taken to the hospital for treatment, where another six firefighters were decontaminated for exposure using showers.
“He was having issues seeing the speedometer controls,” David Reichert, division chief for the Fairborn Fire Department, told Dayton Daily News. There’s nothing like going to the hospital and seeing one of our guys in the hospital bed who has just been given Narcan to pull him away from dying.”
The specific substance that caused the overdoses is unknown, but the crime lab is currently testing samples. Officials say exposure to deadly substances while on call is now a common risk.
The Drug Enforcement Agency issued new guidance to first responders across the country in June on how to handle heroin and other narcotics due to the increasing prevalence of fentanyl. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein warned it only takes two milligrams of fentanyl, “the equivalent of a few grains of table salt,” to cause a fatal overdose.
The opioid epidemic is particularly dire in Ohio, where more than 2,000 peopleare estimated to have died from a fentanyl related overdose this year. The opioid death rate in the state spiked 13 percent between 2014 and 2015, among the largest increases in the country.
Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death for Americans under 50.