OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – As Fentanyl overdose deaths continue to rise across the country, Oklahoma National Guard and several Oklahoma first responder agencies wanted to make sure officers were trained to recognize this growing trend to keep you safe. Oklahoma law enforcement is focused on reducing the dangers.
During training officers and fire fighters learned from experts with both the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration, all in an effort to teach local first responders on how to combat the growing threat of fentanyl.
“We teamed up with local agencies. So, Oklahoma City Fire, Moore Fire, Edmond Police Department, Oklahoma City Police Department. We have the DEA, FBI and various other agencies here collaborating,” said Maj. Aaron Dougherty, Deputy Commander, 63rd CST.
“Capabilities of CST will help other first responding agencies, and particularly law enforcement, to get ahead of the rising tide of fentanyl to help them figure out where the fentanyl is coming from and to be able to help mitigate that threat before it becomes so prevalent that it is widespread,” said Sgt. Douglas Engel, a member of the 63rd Civil Support Team.
Maj. Aaron Dougherty said they want to raise awareness on how severe the threat of fentanyl can be.
The Oklahoma National Guard said the drug is often combined with other drugs like heroin or cocaine, and is created to look like prescription and over-the-counter drugs such as Acetaminophen. In some cases, it is made to look like candy, creating a significant threat to children.
“And educate people that, you know, it doesn’t take much fentanyl to be placed into what looks like it might be candy or some other colorful object that kids will get a hold of. We’ve already seen some of those overdoses in the United States,” said Maj. Aaron Dougherty.
Fentanyl dates back to the late 1950s.
The Oklahoma National Guard reports it was originally and is still used as an anesthetic, and though it is a pharmaceutical medication prescribed for specific instances, the drug is being illegally produced and sold on the black market.
“Fentanyl in its regular state is 100 times more potent than morphine and it is 50 times more potent than heroin. And just as an example, four small little granules of, let’s say, like salt granules, is the lethal dose,” said Maj. Dougherty.
During training the Oklahoma National Guard brought equipment and resources to give first responders the opportunity to help identify opioids and what chemicals they consist of.
Sgt. Douglas Engel said their equipment capabilities are a big reason they are helping host the training.
“CST brings a very unique list of capabilities that a lot of local agencies don’t have. And so we are the subject matter experts in the state of Oklahoma who provide that kind of support to civil authorities,” said Maj. Dougherty.
Over the last 10 years the CDC has noticed an increase of opioid and Fentanyl overdose deaths in the United States per year from approximately 2,600 to more than 75,000.