A Life-Saving Antidote for Officers and their K-9 Partners
By Rafael Rosa

As law enforcement officers, one of our primary objectives is to provide protective services to the community we serve. Rarely do we put ourselves first when attempting to safeguard the lives of those we are entrusted to protect. This is the reason why police officers are imbued with all sorts of life-saving training so that we can properly address a life-threatening situation accurately and swiftly.

As more individuals become addicted to opioids, police departments across America are arming themselves with the sobering power of Narcan to resuscitate the blitzed drug addict. Yet Narcan–a drug that counters the effects of opioids–is not exclusively for drug abusers. K-9 officers can also use Narcan to reverse the negative side-effects of their drug-sniffing dogs.
Recently, there have been several instances when in the process of tracking opioids; dogs have been afflicted with moderate forms of overdose. Like the human anatomy, which quickly absorbs the opiates, a dog’s internal composition works in a similar fashion. Therefore, it is crucial to provide relief to man’s best friend, especially when they are unwilling victims of their assigned profession. But K-9s are not the only species that can experience the negative effects of opiates while performing their duties, officers too can be exposed to the toxicity of the drug.
Fentanyl, a synthetic opiate used primarily by surgeons to alleviate pain, is a porous drug which can easily permeate the skin. The drug is widely used by addicts for its powerful euphoric effects and has caused countless of deaths around the globe. Having the ability to dissolve quickly, most addicts ingest the drug sublingually. Others, however, smoke the opioid, or just merely take the drug as a pill.

For this reason, among others, officers should always wear gloves and avoid bare contact with the drug. At 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine, even the minutest amount of fentanyl residue can cause undesirable effects to an officer. Therefore, Narcan, which was developed primarily for addicts, can also be used as a life-saving anecdote for officers and their K-9 partners.
Lastly, on the eve of the 9/11 commemorations, let us remember the countless first responders who risked their lives searching, day and night, in a heroic effort to safeguard the living and retrieving the dead. It is to these men and women, including over three hundred trained K-9s, which we owe the greatest admiration and praise. As always stay alert, stay alive.

Rafael Rosa has been a police officer since 1999. He presently holds an associate and bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice, and two masters. At present, he is a doctoral candidate.