Doctor explains symptoms of fentanyl exposure

Western Mass News Photo

Two Holyoke police officers and two EMTs are recovering after being exposed to fentanyl Thursday night.

All four were taken to the hospital after experiencing effects of the lethal substance.

The Hampden District Attorney's office said they are all going to be okay. At 8:15 p.m. Thursday night, Action Ambulance personnel and Holyoke police officers responded to an overdosed man in a parked car.

Director of Operations at Action EMS told Western Mass News they respond to these kinds of calls on a daily basis. "[Fentanyl is] a potent pain reliever. It will make people feel high, that's why they abuse it. The dangerous part is that with too much it will depress the respiratory system and make people stop breathing," said Dr. Joseph Schmidt with emergency medicine at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield. Dr. Schmidt said there aren't any long-term effects of exposure if the symptoms are caught early. "If they're recognized right away, treated right away, almost always people can be supported through that," he explained.

Hampden County District Attorney Anthony Gulluni said he has a message for the public. "Whenever you suspect you're in the presence of any sort of opiate mixture that could contain fentanyl, stay away from it," said D.A. Gulluni. The Hampden County District Attorney's office is now in talks with the Holyoke police department about possible changes in protocol. "We are equipping our officers with the equipment and appropriate materials to handle this kind of substance and most especially, training. I think there will be some changes, it's very likely," Gulluni noted.

The Holyoke Police Department did not respond to our requests for comment, but the District Attorney's office said they have been in close contact about those future policy changes.

Copyright 2018 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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