One person died and a dozen were hospitalized after a mass opioid overdose at a home in Chino, California. Two officers at the scene also required medical treatment because of accidental exposure to the dangerous drug. Police say the likely culprit was fentanyl and another substance that has not yet been identified.
Chino Fire Department Division Chief Jesse Alexander said at one point he saw CPR being performed on six people at the same time during the mass casualty incident. Six doses of the opioid reversal agent Naloxone were also administered, Chino Police Chief Michael O’Brien said. Chino police officers began carrying Naloxone last year in response to an increase in opioid overdose calls.
It was not known whether all the individuals who overdosed intentionally ingested the substance or if they were merely exposed. The house where the mass overdose occurred was deemed a Haz-Mat site by authorities. The area was closed off for cleanup.
Fentanyl is a highly potent opioid that is generally prescribed to treat breakthrough pain in cancer patients on around-the-clock opioid therapy. However, illicit drugs like heroin and cocaine are more and more often unknowingly laced with fentanyl, with deadly results, according to DrugAbuse.com, an American addiction center resource.
Fentanyl is 50 times more potent than heroin. A speck the size of a few grains of salt can kill. The drug can be absorbed through the skin or inhaled if it becomes airborne. This is a particular risk for first responders, many of whom wear gloves and masks to protect their skin and lungs.
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