On Thursday, we heard from the Tavares police officer who had to be given Narcan after she was exposed to fentanyl during a traffic stop.
The scary moments where she was in and out of consciousness were captured on body camera video.
“I don’t think I would be here today if it wasn’t for the officers on the scene,” said Officer Courtney Bannick.
Emergency Medicine physician Dr. Rajiv Bahl reviewed the harrowing video. Bahl says it’s not likely for overdosing from exposure to fentanyl to occur simply from touching the drug. It would only happen as a result of unknowingly ingesting the drug.
“I knew I wasn’t breathing, but was trying to figure out why,” Bannick said of the frightening moments. “I started to feel weird and lose consciousness…I just felt like I was choking.”
Dr. Bahl says fentanyl’s ability to trigger an overdose depends on the way it’s ingested.
“Some people ingest fentanyl through inhalation, but you have to have a large amount, and a very direct quantity,” Dr. Bahl said.
A spokesperson for the Tavares police Department said Bannick’s believed that, “between the wind and loose powder of the narcotic located, that she was exposed that way.”
According to the American Journal of Medical Toxicology, that’s not likely.
“If the wind blew strong enough, and it hit her strong enough, and she ingested enough through her nasal cavities, is it plausible? Is it likely? Probably not,” Dr. Bahl said.
In the video, other officers can be heard worrying about Bannick’s breathing as they administered three separate shots of Narcan. Though it took three hits, Dr. Bahl says the fact that the Narcan was effective in treating Bannick’s condition is an indication that she was in fact experiencing a fentanyl overdose.
“If you can’t breathe, your whole body will start to shut down, and that’s truly what we start to see during an overdose,” Dr. Bahl said. “When it comes down to it, if the Narcan worked, some will say it has to only be the opiate it affected. If the Narcan helped out, it’s more than likely the fentanyl was the cause of her respiratory issues.”
In response to the feedback regarding the overdose claims, a Tavares Police Department spokesperson said “we would direct them to the Center for Disease Control’s website which clearly discusses potential exposures for emergency responders. Fentanyl exposure is a real and ever-growing threat to first responders. Studies completed years ago do not accurately reflect the strength and risk of current street-level fentanyl.”