Skip to main content

Opioid Class Trains Workers To Protect Themselves From Deadly Fentanyl Exposure

Fentanyl pills pictured from a seizure in San Diego, Sept. 14, 2018.

Credit: Office of the United States Attorney

Above: Fentanyl pills pictured from a seizure in San Diego, Sept. 14, 2018.

Some delivery drivers, lab workers and emergency responders are taking a unique class this week in San Diego to learn how to protect themselves and their coworkers against the deadly opioid fentanyl.

The one-day class, called “The Opioid Crisis: Protecting Workers at Risk,” is being offered on Friday, April 12 as part of the OSHA Training Institute at UC San Diego Extension.

“Anybody could be exposed to this and not know it, and not know that it’s going to affect their health or their outcome," said Stephanie Spann, associate director of OSHA. “Anybody from Fedex, UPS, Amazon workers, in addition to police officers, first responders, risk management — this is, unfortunately, an epidemic across all industries.”

Class attendees will learn how to react to potential exposure, and they’ll receive a kit of protective equipment including respiratory gear.

“It’s to protect them,” Spann said. “It’s to be proactive rather than reactive.”

The training comes as opioid overdose death rates continue to soar. More than 250 people in San Diego County died in 2018 of opioid-related causes, and 90 of those were a direct result of fentanyl, according to preliminary numbers from the Medical Examiner’s office. The fentanyl fatalities are nearly triple the number of reported deaths in 2016.

Nationwide, deaths from the powerful synthetic drug skyrocketed more than 1,000 percent from 2011 to 2016, according to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control.

Fentanyl is up to 100 times more powerful than morphine and can stop a person’s breathing in less than a minute.

The training comes as opioid overdose death rates continue to soar. More than 250 people in San Diego County died in 2018 of opioid-related causes, and 90 of those were a direct result of fentanyl, according to preliminary numbers from the Medical Examiner’s office.

You can hear this story and other local news every morning by subscribing to San Diego News Matters, KPBS’ daily news podcast. Subscribe via iTunes, Google Play or your favorite podcatcher.

FEATURED PODCAST

San Diego News Matters podcast branding

KPBS' daily news podcast covering local politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings so you can listen on your morning commute.

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.