Author: Ron LaPedis
Sponsored by First Line Technology
By Sarah Calams, PoliceOne BrandFocus Staff
On average, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 115 Americans die every day from opioid overdose. As a result, the risk of synthetic opioid exposure to law enforcement and other first responders is also on the rise. This exposure can happen anytime and anywhere – whether it’s during a seemingly routine traffic stop, wellness check or domestic call response.
Additionally, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s National Forensic Laboratory Information System, fentanyl-positive drugs more than doubled from 14,440 in 2015 to 34,119 in 2016. In 2017, a startling 25,460 fentanyl-positive drugs were submitted in just the first six months of the year.
With these numbers and exposure incidents increasing each year, it’s imperative for officers to remain vigilant by protecting themselves while on duty.
In a recently released report, the CDC confirmed that fentanyl is the most commonly used drug involved in overdoses. Consequently, law enforcement officers must now use proper precautions while on scene, such as wearing appropriate protective gear, and it’s imperative to know how to identify unknown substances.
First Line Technology, founded in 2003, focuses on developing products that make first responders’ jobs easier and, most importantly, safer. Just recently, the company developed a kit designed to arm a two-man officer team with what they need to prevent overdose.
The 2-Man Decon Kit, originally designed and developed for the Virginia State Police, includes:
Dahlgren Decon (22 ounces) 1,000mL mixing beaker Stirring rod S-Cut QE Four FiberTect wipes, and Tactical hand-pump sprayer.
The kit, which weighs 4.8 pounds and is housed in a tactical bag, has 15 different attachment points in order to attach to officers’ other tactical gear or go-bags. And, since officers work from one extreme weather condition to the next, they don’t have to worry about storage conditions. The kits can be stored in officer’s vehicles as the decon solution withstands temperatures anywhere from 40-degrees Fahrenheit to 160-degrees Fahrenheit.
“If you have it in the trunk, then it’s ready for your protection,” Brian Keyeck, a former firefighter and DeconTect Product Manager with First Line Technology, said. “It doesn’t require special care or checking up on.”
The FiberTect wipes are used to remove bulk contamination, and Dahlgren Decon – a decontamination formula designed by the U.S. Navy for chemical and biological decontamination – is a three-part solution that provides the capability to decontaminate synthetic opioids like fentanyl and carfentanil. It also continues to be tested and evaluated for emerging threats and newer issues that first responders have the potential to run into, such as seasonal threats on the biological side to threats of terrorism.
“Synthetic opioids are a big concern. It’s not just a concern in major metros or rural areas. It’s everywhere. It’s horrible that there’s an issue out there that you need to protect yourself from, but it’s just the way it is,” Keyeck said.
The kit takes two minutes to mix – using Part A, Part B1 and Part B2 solutions.
“It’s fool-proof,” Al Lee, DeconTect Product Manager, who also has an extensive background in public safety, explained.
Decon info in your hands
The kit comes with pictorial mixing instructions and users can also download a free app – the Decon Field Guide – to help with mixing. The free app is available on iOS and Android devices to inform users of what threats the kits is effective against.
Dahlgren Decon also has a 10-year shelf life – meaning it can be purchased, left in your patrol car and will still be ready to use when it’s needed.
“I think most everyone in the nation understands what decon is like in cold weather,” Keyeck said. “You don’t want to break out water and spray anyone off or have a solution that maybe frozen when needed”
In response to the growing opioid and fentanyl epidemic, Dahlgren Decon’s solution neutralizes fentanyl in less than five minutes. In their testing, they also had 100-percent neutralization of fentanyl in five minutes.
“It’s all about putting safety products in the hands of first responders,” Lee said.
Furthermore, for departments weary of using the kit for only one specific threat, Keyeck explained and stressed the importance of how versatile the kit really is.
“The capabilities of Dahlgren Decon and FiberTect are so broad. They’re not just designed for one threat,” he said. “Mixing a couple of different decon strategies together can overlap and give you a much broader capability and wider range of what you can respond to and how you can handle things.”
The kit, Keyeck and Lee argue, is an essential item all departments need in their tool belts to be fully prepared and protected against emerging threats.
About the author: Sarah Calams previously served as Associate Editor of FireRescue1 and Fire Chief.