Illicit Drugs and Preventing Occupational Exposure to Emergency Responders

NIOSH and partners produce video with real-life footage and safety recommendations

Emergency responders are often the first on the scene when we need help, and now a new resource from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is available to help keep them safe on the job. NIOSH, in collaboration with the Fredericksburg, VA Police and Fire Departments, and the FBI Laboratory, released a new video today to help first responders understand the risks of exposures to illicit drugs and communicate what they can do to protect themselves from exposure during a response.

First responders are at risk of inhalation; mucous membrane contact through nose, eye, and mouth; ingestion; dermal and needlestick exposure to these drugs. As seen in the video, these exposures could result in lightheadedness, drowsiness, nausea and vomiting, dizziness, and the rapid onset of life-threatening respiratory depression, a slow and shallow breathing, often creating the need for medical attention and preventing emergency responders from performing their duties as needed.

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