Fentanyl and its analogues present identification challenges for first responders
Fentanyl and its analogues are more frequently making their way into common street drugs, adding a new dimension of danger to even incidental exposure to these substances. Fentanyls are increasingly being added to heroin and other illicit drugs because they are cheaper and deliver a comparable euphoric high at a significantly lower dose. Today, it is not unlikely that illicit pills and powder, including cocaine, crack, methamphetamine, PCP, and ecstasy, contain fentanyls, thus increasing the risk of accidental death by overdose due to unintended exposure. Therefore, teams responding to suspicious substances in clandestine laboratory production settings must be well-versed in the latest tactics, techniques, and procedures. Furthermore, these responses often involve entry in to areas with airborne respiratory hazards. In these scenarios and under adverse conditions, response teams must assess the situation, perform sample collection, and, in many cases, conduct sample analysis that leads to real-time decision-making.