In the fight against opioids, first responders in Delray Beach on the lookout for Carfentanil

Posted at 7:21 PM, Sep 09, 2016

First responders are on the front lines of the fight against heroin, and it's a battle that Captain Kevin Saxton and Delray Beach Fire Rescue has to be well equipped for.

"We give them medication that we have, support their breathing, we do CPR if necessary."

There's a new threat looming on the horizon, however, called Carfentanil.

"It can be much more dangerous and much more costly," Saxton says.

It's even a cause for concern for first responders.

"If we were to come in contact with it, it could be dangerous for us as well," Saxton says.

10,000 times stronger that morphine, the Drug Enforcement Administration says Carfentanil is the most potent opioid in the world.

The drug is normally used to tranquilize larger animals, like elephants. 

Law enforcement says drug dealers are adding it to heroin to give a stronger high, one that Saxton says can tough to treat.

"It's so powerful, that it may require multiple doses of Narcan," said Saxton. 

The drug can be absorbed through the skin - and a dose the size of a grain of salt can kill you.

Substance abuse counselor Jeff Kadel has seen the rise of Heroin and Fentanyl in the community.

Now Carfentanil is on his radar.

"Unfortunately it's the natural progression," Kadel says.

"Honestly, we're hoping this is the limit, where it's finally to the point where people start to recognize that 'this drug most likely will kill me.'"

Kadel says he's working now with law enforcement on what to look out for.

The drug adding a new wrinkle into what is already a difficult fight.

"It's something in the back of our minds like well, 'OK, this could be an instance where they used something stronger'," Saxton says.

Kadel says one step they need to take is educating doctors.

He says 8 percent of heroin users start with prescription drugs.

Kadel says doctors and patients need to know the long term risks that come with certain prescriptions.