To serve and protect during the opioid crisis

Red Deer RCMP and Emergency Services suit up against dangerous drugs

An ion scanner to swab for drug residue and a fume hood for handling toxic drugs are just some of the recent changes to help Red Deer RCMP officers battle the local opioid crisis.

Red Deer RCMP Insp. Gerald Grobmeier said coming into contact with fentanyl or carfentanil powder while dealing with a suspect or during a search is a real concern.

“We could be doing a search in a house for something that’s not drug related. We’re actually finding it on the persons themselves. They just need a little bit of powder on them, in a baggie, or anything. If we simply inhale it, or come in contact with it, it could overcome a police officer,” Grobmeier said.

During an incident this fall two officers were exposed to fentanyl and had to be revived with naloxone, he said.

“The people that they worked with were trained. They recognized the symptoms very quickly. They were given naloxone which worked.”

Besides training with naloxone spray, officers also have access to filtrated masks, gloves and glasses if necessary, he said.

“We’re also having to re-evaluate how we do our day-to-day police work. How we search a house. How we search a vehicle. What protocols we have to have in place. So we’re putting all those together as well.”

He said police have focused on training and personal protection equipment and slowing down some investigation methods. But sometimes eliminating exposure isn’t always possible.

“We can’t mitigate the entire risk because police officers have to respond and sometimes they don’t have the luxury of stopping and making a plan because somebody’s life is in danger.”

Grobmeier said police are still dealing with the same number of drug investigations, but fentanyl is becoming a more common ingredient.

A new fume hood at the Red Deer detachment is designed to deal with any drug powders to prevent exposure. An ion scanner, like the ones used at airports after a swab is taken of a passenger’s hands, specifically tests for drugs.

“We didn’t have that before so any powder we dealt with we truly didn’t know what we were dealing with until it was sent away to a lab. Now we have members trained on the ion scanner so they can take a quick swab, run it through the computer.”

In early November city hall was evacuated after carfentanil was found in a ground-floor public washroom. Carfentanil is 10,000 times more toxic than morphine. It looks much like table salt and a dose as small as 20 micrograms can be fatal to humans.

He warned anyone who comes across a suspicious substance should leave it and call the police.

“Gone are the days when people could package it up and bring it to the office,” Grobmeier said.

Red Deer Emergency Services’ Hazardous Materials Response Unit responded to the carfentanil scare at city hall. Damian LaGrange, acting deputy chief of operations with Red Deer Emergency Services, said incidents like that are rare, but emergency services are trained and prepared to deal with them.

“We are ready to deal with it wherever it might be found,” LaGrange said.

“Exposure to drugs at scenes, that’s not new in the world of EMS, the world of firefighters and hazmat techs.”

The hazmat team consists of up to 10 hazardous materials technicians on shift at anytime. They work in collaboration with RCMP to assess and deal with any locations where there might potentially be harmful opioid products.

LaGrange said paramedics have long been able to deal with opioid overdoses. Naloxone is a standard supply on ambulances. It can be used for morphine, fentanyl and other medications and drugs that have been used or misused. But the frequency of ambulance calls concerning fentanyl has increased.



szielinski@reddeeradvocate.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

Just Posted

Women’s marches underway in Canadian cities, a year after Trump inauguration

Women are gathering in dozens of communities across the country today to… Continue reading

Red Deer councillor balks at city getting stuck with more funding responsibilities

Volunteer Central seeks municipal funding after being cut off by government

Olds chicken barn burns to the ground, no livestock harmed

More than 100,000 chickens were saved as fire crews prevent the blaze from spreading

Bear video meant to promote conservation: zoo owner

Discovery Wildlife Park says it will look at other ways to promote its conservation message

WATCH: Setters Place grand opening in Red Deer

Red Deer’s Setters Place officially opened to the public Saturday afternoon.… Continue reading

In photos: Get ready for Western Canadian Championships

Haywood NorAm Western Canadian Championships and Peavey Mart Alberta Cup 5/6 start… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer city council debates cost-savings versus quality of life

Majority of councillors decide certain services are worth preserving

Got milk? Highway reopened near Millet

A southbound truck hauling milk and cartons collided with a bridge

Stettler’s newest residents overcame fear, bloodshed to come here

Daniel Kwizera, Diane Mukasine and kids now permanent residents

Giddy up: Red Deer to host Canadian Finals Rodeo in 2018

The CFR is expected to bring $20-30 million annually to Red Deer and region

Ice dancers Virtue and Moir to carry flag at Pyeongchang Olympics

Not since Kurt Browning at the 1994 Lillehammer Games has a figure… Continue reading

Beer Canada calls on feds to axe increasing beer tax as consumption trends down

OTTAWA — A trade association for Canada’s beer industry wants the federal… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month