November 2nd, 2017
The opioid epidemic gripping our nation has claimed the lives of approximately 64,000 Americans in 2016 alone. Along with this rapidly rising tide has come a sharply increased risk of occupational exposure to synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl. Responding to this crisis and the need for new protective guidance, the American Industrial Hygiene Association® (AIHA) partnered with the White House to help develop new Fentanyl Safety Recommendations for First Responders. This new set of recommendations, which answers several key questions and lays the groundwork for future needed actions, was released in conjunction with the fifth meeting of President Donald J. Trump’s broader Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. Leading up to the Commission’s fifth meeting, AIHA provided several recommendations to the Commission on protecting first responders from exposure to opioids and their synthetic analogues. Those recommendations are available on AIHA’s website.
“The Fentanyl Safety Recommendations for First Responders serves as a key step in the efforts to protect the people on the frontlines of the opioid epidemic, who first come to the aid of those in need. Going forward, it is imperative that the Recommendations are followed up with the development of specific field guidance, hands-on training, and the creation of short, field-useful wallet cards and social media to protect first responders and others from the routes of exposure to opioids and their synthetic analogues, such as fentanyl,” said Donna Heidel, CIH, FAIHA, of AIHA’s Board of Directors and Chair of AIHA’s Opioids Work Group.