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First Responders are at Risk Responding to Drug Overdoses Where Fentanyl Could be Present: One UCF Professor has a Solution

Fentanyl is deadly if police officers and canine units come in contact with it unknowingly. Photo: Flickr Creative Commons

Fentanyl and carfentanil can kill first responders if they come in contact with them while responding to a drug overdose.

Researchers at UCF are developing a device to reduce the risk for first responders. Dr. Subith Vasu says the device uses a laser to determine the chemical make-up of an unknown substance.

“Right now they need to take a sample, send to the lab and wait for the results and that’s a very lengthy process but before entering a room they need to know if they are safe. Because these compounds are highly lethal and if they come in contact with your skin you can actually die.”

Vasu and his team received a one million dollar grant from the Department of Defense to develop the test.

The Department of Justice says fentanyl is 50-100 times more potent than morphine while carfentanil can be as much as 10,000 times stronger.

If you'd like to listen to the full story, please click on the clip above.


Danielle Prieur is a general assignment reporter and fill-in host at WMFE.