VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Local, state, and federal agencies came together on Friday for a special Fentanyl hazmat training exercise.
Officials say it’s the first of it’s kind in our area.
It was planned to help with the increasing threat the opioid poses to first responders.
“As little as two to three milligrams, which is equivalent to five to six grams of salt can be deadly when inhaled, ingested, or absorbed through the skin,” said Michael Barbuti, who is the Drug Enforcement Administration special agent in charge for the Richmond bureau.
The exercise comes just days after three Virginia Beach Police officers grew ill while responding to a 911 call.
According to officials, Virginia is one out of six states where law enforcement officers have come in contact with Fentanyl more than 500 times.
“It’s a hard thing for us as first responders to deal with this. We’re not used to this. It can be lethal,” said Virginia Beach Fire Department battalion chief Robert Darling.
Darling says they’re working with those other agencies to combat this problem to make it easier for first responders when they do run into these situations.
“ It’s better to do it then and now, than to do it on a scene where we go through stumbling blocks,” Darling said.
First responders say the community can help them decrease fentanyl exposure by giving detailed 911 calls.
Officials from the agencies said this drill will provide them insight they can use. They’re hoping it will be an example other throughout the state and country can follow.
“We’ve really got to be on our game when looking at this situation because if we take down our first responders, then it doesn’t do any good for our public and the health of our employees,” Darling said.
The DEA also has information on first responder exposure to fentanyl. You can visit their website for more.