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Officer's near death experience raises awareness about danger of Fentanyl

Fentanyl is said to be 80-100 times stronger than morphine, according to the DEA.
Posted at 9:14 PM, Aug 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-06 23:14:10-04

PUEBLO — Body camera footage of a Patrol Officer with the San Diego County Sheriff's Department who nearly died, is now spreading across the country and reminding everyone how deadly Fentanyl can be.

The officer checked a substance found in a red Jeep and moments later tumbled backwards, collapsing into the pavement.

“Most of the time when we process drugs, or we find drugs… We use our senses… But the problem with the Fentanyl is, if you inhale it, you can have some problems," said Sergeant Frank Ortega with the Pueblo Police Department.

Accidents like this are the reason that five years ago, the Pueblo Police Department began supplying all of their officers with Narcan, a nasal spray that reverses the effects of an overdose. This is what was used to resuscitate the officer who collapsed.

“Luckily for him he had some Narcan, a training officer, and the ambulance… or else he would not be alive today,” said Ortega.

In 2020, PPD seized 6,302 Fentanyl Pills, according to their annual report. Plus, Fentanyl-related death more than doubled between 2019-2020.

“Unfortunately, we have a lot. It’s like other drugs, there’s more than we would like to see," said Ortega.

Crossroads Turning Points (CTP) is a drug addiction recovery center and organization in Pueblo. They are also strong advocates for administering Narcan,

“Dead people don’t get sober, and Narcan really gives you that opportunity to turn your life around, because if you overdose you don’t have the chance to become a sober person," said Rob Archuleta, Chief innovation Officer with CTP.

The prescription drug is available to anyone able to get it prescribed, not just law enforcement agents.

“The bottom line is it saves lives," said Ortega.

He says his biggest fear is that officers handling Fentanyl has become too common.

“Unfortunately sometimes we do things so many times that it’s repetitive, and that’s the thing I’m worried about it is that, at some point their kind of just… not as serious about handling it.”

CTP hands out Narcan to those who may need it. Both CTP and the PPD fund their supplies of Narcan through grants.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction, these resources may be able to help.