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The Right PPE for Fentanyl Exposure

Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 50 times more powerful than heroin, and 100 times more powerful than morphine, has become a growing concern for first responders.

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), opioids continue to be the “most significant contributor to overdose deaths throughout the United States.” 1 With this increase, first responders are faced with taking extra precautions to protect themselves when they enter a call with an opioid exposure risk since Fentanyl can be absorbed through the skin via accidental contact, or inadvertently inhaled on emergency overdose calls where Fentanyl is disturbed and particles become airborne.

In August of 2017, The InterAgency Board (IAB) released the Recommendations on Selection and Use of Personal Protective Equipment and Decontamination Products for First Responders Against Exposure Hazards to Synthetic Opioids, Including Fentanyl and Fentanyl Analogues. This report outlines the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) first responders should wear for each level of opioid exposure.

It is recommended that whenever there is any risk of opioid exposure, first responders should wear respiratory protection, and some form of gloves. As the risk increases, full skin coverage is recommended ranging from structural firefighting PPE, to a certified ensemble that integrates respiratory protection.

If a fire risk exists in combination with an opioid exposure risk, the recommended PPE is a full protective ensemble, including: structural firefighting turnout gear, helmets, hoods, gloves, and a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA).

No matter the level of threat you encounter on the job, LION can help keep you ready for action with a variety of PPE offerings.

LION’s ERS (Extended Response Suit) protects against lower levels of vapor and liquid concentrations that may be encountered in situations involving opioids. ERS is certified to both NFPA 1994, Class 3 (Toxic Industrial Chemical and Warfare Agent Protection), and NFPA 1992 (Liquid Splash).

To learn more about the LION ERS garment, click here.


  1. DEA, A Briefing Guide for First Responders, 2017




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