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Coroners begin carrying Narcan in St. Joseph County

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. -

Opioids have become so potent that coroners are now protecting themselves from overdose by exposure.

In St. Joseph County coroners and their staff are now carrying Narcan in case they need to save their own lives.

“If you pick up something without gloves on or you brush some powder off and you accidentally inhale it, then you can become exposed,” Deputy Coroner and paramedic Dave Yoder said.

Yoder trained his fellow coroners on the life-saving tools Wednesday, including Narcan and breathing equipment.

This is in reaction to a drug called Carfentinal.

It’s strong enough to sedate elephants but recently has been found mixed in with other drugs on the street.

“We have had toxicology screens show up positive for Carfentinal,” Yoder said.

Unlike other drugs, just a small amount of Carfentinal on the skin can be fatal for coroners.

They’re at risk of an overdose by exposure when handling a scene.

“Recently a police officer was overcome with Carfentinal after a routine car search, had some white powder on his shirt, brushed it off and he was in respiratory arrest,” Yoder said.

The incident he describes happened in another state, but Yoder wants to keep it from happening in Indiana.

Along with carrying naloxone, St. Joseph County coroners are now required to wear a gown, eye protection and respiratory gear to every deadly overdose scene.

“It’s frustrating that it puts people trying to do the right thing in more danger,” Yoder said.

The coroners received a grant for three nalaxone treatments.

Additional treatments will be paid for by the county budget.

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