Police union president says he's worried more officers will accidentally overdose on opioids

'I think it's going to require more training'
Posted at 6:28 PM, May 24, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-24 21:05:42-04

CINCINNATI -- Sgt. Dan Hils said he's worried more officers will accidentally overdose on opioids.

A police officer was hospitalized Tuesday after contact with an "unknown illicit substance" during a traffic stop left him feeling sick and light-headed, according to the Cincinnati Police Department.

"My mind is in a place (where there is) yet another danger we are going to have to be thinking of," Hils said.

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Officers accidentally overdose by touching the drug and absorbing it through their skin. Dr. Dustin Calhoun said even the smallest amounts can cause an officer to overdose.

"Where on your body they (drugs) touch, how moisturized is that skin? Is there a crack in the skin, like dry skin on your hands? It goes in much faster if you breathe in a little bit of the powder," Calhoun said.

Calhoun said officers could die if they absorbed a large amount in a short period of time.

"That's the biggest thing we are talking about here," Calhoun said. "You get enough of this in your system fast enough, which can happen with just topical skin and exposure, and you slowly stop breathing."

Hils said police departments and officers will have to step up their training to avoid these situations.

"I think it's going to require more training and more gear, and one day I can see where officers will more routinely wear gloves," Hils said.

The officer was later released from the University of Cincinnati Medical Center in good condition, but the substance had been sent to a lab for analysis.

Although the officer in this incident was unharmed, a fellow police officer in East Liverpool was less fortunate earlier in the month: He accidentally overdosed on fentanyl, a powerful opioid, after touching it, and needed an overdose reversal drug to regain consciousness.