August 15, 2019

Video Depicts Proper Use of PPE to Prevent Exposures to Illicit Drugs

A new video released by NIOSH depicts the proper use of personal protective equipment to prevent occupational exposure to illicit drugs among emergency responders. The 12-minute video is intended to help responders understand the risks associated with these exposures and show what they can do to protect themselves by properly donning and doffing PPE. NIOSH developed the video in collaboration with the police and fire departments in Fredericksburg, Va.

The agency previously collaborated with the Fredericksburg police and fire departments to develop a video that includes real-life footage from a body camera worn by a police officer responding to an overdose call and shows what happens when an officer is exposed to illicit drugs such as fentanyl. The earlier NIOSH video shows that these exposures can result in lightheadedness, drowsiness, nausea and vomiting, dizziness, and the rapid onset of life-threatening respiratory depression. First responders are at risk of inhalation; mucous membrane contact through nose, eye, and mouth; ingestion; and dermal and needlestick exposure to illicit drugs.

More information about preventing occupational exposure to illicit drugs among emergency responders is available on NIOSH’s website. The agency covers topics such as standard safe operating procedures, training, PPE, and decontamination.

Related: The Synergist has published several articles on fentanyl and opioids exposure, including “The Opioid Abuse Epidemic: How Can Our Profession Help?,” “Protection in an Uncontrolled Environment: Emergency Responders and Opioids Exposures,” and “Can Ergonomics Programs Help Solve the Opioid Crisis?” Additional perspectives from Synergist readers can be found in the letters to the editor published in the March 2018 and August 2019 issues.