Industrial Fire Journal - Fire & Rescue - Hemming Group Ltd
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Hazardous opioid exposure protection for responders
Published:  15 February, 2018

DQE, based in Indianapolis, has launched a line of personal protection kits to protect responders from the dangers of ingesting or inhaling opioid substances.

Opioid use in the United States is increasing dramatically. The effects of increased encounters with opioids on law enforcement and first responders can be deadly. The United States Drug Enforcement Administration stated: ‘Since fentanyl can be ingested orally, inhaled through the nose or mouth, or absorbed through the skin or eyes, any substance suspected to contain fentanyl should be treated with extreme caution as exposure to a small amount can lead to significant health‐related complications, respiratory depression, or death.’ 

DQE developed the Sentry Shield line of personal protective kits to protect law enforcement officers and first responders from white powdery substances that could contain fentanyl, carfentanil, or other powerful opioid-based substances.

The Sentry Shield kits are configured based on the recommendations of the National Institutes of Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH) and the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). These personal protection kits range in coverage based on the severity of exposure levels responders may encounter. In all situations, employers must identify hazards to which their workers might be exposed and provide appropriate PPE to protect them.

DQE Sentry Shield Powdered Substance Defense Kits:

  • Sentry Shield QP – This Quick Protection kit contains protective over sleeves, a NIOSH-approved N95 flat-fold respirator, safety glasses, nitrile gloves with extended cuffs, a contaminated clothing bag, and warning labels. For a minimal exposure-response where fentanyl or other hazardous opioid substances may be present, but not visible. Use examples include pre-hospital care, law enforcement routine duties, inmate searches, or customs and border inspections.
  • Sentry Shield – This Standard Protection kit contains a barrier protective garment, NIOSH-approved P100 valve respirator, safety glasses, nitrile gloves with extended cuffs, a contaminated clothing bag, and warning labels. For a moderate exposure-response where small amounts of suspected opioid materials may be present. Use examples include pre-hospital care, law enforcement routine duties, or investigations and evidence collection.
  • Sentry Shield EP – This Extra Protection kit contains a barrier protective coverall, boot covers, NIOSH-approved P100 valve respirator, safety goggles, two pairs of nitrile gloves, a contaminated clothing bag, and warning labels. For an elevated moderate exposure-response where hazardous opioid substances may be present. Use examples include investigations, evidence collection, and for staff in the warm zone.

Due to the dangerous risk of exposure to hazardous opioid substances, it is critical to always be looking for fentanyl indicators. Illicit fentanyl, fentanyl‐related substances, and other synthetic opioids can resemble powdered drugs such as heroin or cocaine and have been identified in pills, capsules, liquid, and on blotter paper. Responders need to keep Sentry Shield PPE kits on hand when conducting motor vehicle stops, responding to calls for service, and arriving at a scene where there is a suspected overdose incident.