A state senator is trying to get first responders out in front of a dangerous new opioid that is likely making its way to Long Island.
State Sen. Phil Boyle (R-Bay Shore) and Promoting Specialized Care and Health (PSCH), a nonprofit based in Flushing, Queens, are hosting a free training course for first responders in Brentwood on Tuesday.
The training will focus on Carfentanil, a synthetic opioid that is used to sedate large animals, such as elephants. In recent months the drug — which is 100 times stronger than the opioid Fentanyl, 5,000 times stronger than heroin and 10,000 times stronger than morphine — has been linked to numerous fatal overdoses across the Midwest.
This summer the Hamilton County, Ohio, department of health issued a public health alert about the drug, which is often mixed with heroin. In August, Cincinnati, which is in Hamilton County, had a spate of 174 overdoses with three deaths in six days, a surge officials blamed on Carfentanil. The county coroner stated that Narcan — used to revive opioid overdose victims, cannot be relied on “to reverse the effects of Carfentanil.”
Here on Long Island, already some people who overdose — such as a Seaford man who last week passed out in a movie theater after snorting Fentanyl — are requiring more than one dose of Narcan to be revived.
The Nassau and Suffolk County medical examiners’ offices reported Long Island last year had 442 opiate overdose deaths, a record number.
Jeffrey Reynolds, president and CEO of the nonprofit Family and Children’s Association in Mineola, which runs chemical dependency treatment centers, said Carfentanil is “just around the corner” from Long Island and “potentially changes the game up in a pretty significant way.”
“This is yet another layer on top of an ongoing crisis,” Reynolds said. “We are unprepared for what we have now and wholly unprepared for this thing to get worse.”
First responders are also in danger. A U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration fact sheet on the drug warns that the “presence of Carfentanil poses a significant threat to first responders and law enforcement personnel who may come in contact” with it.
Boyle called it a “scary” situation for these workers. “First responders who are trying to give aid, they’re having distress as a result, just from the mouth to mouth or skin to skin contact,” he said.
The course in Brentwood will show first responders how to safely treat people under the drug’s influence. It will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. at Suffolk County Community College’s Grant Campus in the Van Nostrand Theater on Crooked Hill Road.
Reservations are required and space is limited. Those interested in attending should contact Boyle’s office at 631-665-2311.