Trumbull sheriff weighing best way to protect deputies from opiod hazards


WARREN

A protective suit, nitrile gloves and dust mask are solutions for keeping law enforcement officers safe when confronted with deadly opiates such as fentanyl or carfentanil.

But the type of threat three deputies faced Jan. 18 when an overdosed man purposely kicked opiates into the air near them may be best battled with education, Trumbull County Sheriff Paul Monroe said.

“In general we’re looking at the best way to safeguard the deputies ... and a lot of it is education,” the sheriff said.

Three deputies had gone to the Blue Manor mobile home park in Newton Township for a drug overdose call. While ambulance personnel tried to revive Martin Higinbotham, 47, of California with the opiate-reversal drug naloxone, two deputies gathered suspected heroin and fentanyl as evidence from a table not far from Higinbotham.

One of the deputies reported wearing nitrile gloves while handling the drugs but didn’t mention any other protection.

When Higinbotham awoke, he kicked the table with both feet, producing a cloud of drugs into the air near the deputies.

The deputies escorted Higinbotham to an ambulance, but two of them said they were not “feeling right.” They apparently did not fall unconscious or have an overdose but went to the hospital as a precaution, officials said.

Monroe said his department is reviewing the incident to make sure deputies are as prepared as possible the next time something like this happens.

Read more about the matter in Wednesday's Vindicator or on Vindy.com.

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