August 11, 2017 2:15 pm
Updated: August 11, 2017 5:29 pm

Manitoba RCMP receiving equipment to protect against fentanyl exposure

RCMP officer demonstrates new fentanyl protective gear Friday.

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The provincial government is pitching in to help protect front-line RCMP officers from fentanyl.

Nearly $54,000 from the criminal property forfeiture fund will be spent on personal protective equipment. That includes respiratory masks, eye wear and secure containers.

RELATED: 3 Winnipeg police officers possibly exposed to fentanyl, self-administer naloxone

Any kind of exposure to fentanyl can trigger an overdose. It can be ingested through the skin, so an officer may have no idea they have taken in the substance until it’s too late. This protective equipment will help make sure that doesn’t happen.

Manitoba RCMP are dedicating nearly $54,000 to fentanyl protection equipment.

Zahra Premji / Global News

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“An officer on the street and on the front-line can run into a scenario whereby they could be arresting somebody and there could be substances there,” explained Scott Kolody, Commanding Officer of RCMP D Division. “Today, it’s just very difficult to detect exactly what it is until further analysis is being done.”

RELATED: Being on fentanyl is like ‘hell on earth’, says former addict from Winnipeg

Roughly a third of the 1,080 officers in Manitoba have already been equipped with the protective gear. The rest will be fitted by year’s end.

“The funding will also help ensure that officers working in remote detachments have access to this respiratory equipment,” said Justice Minister Heather Stefanson.

Stefanson hinted that a similar announcement about equipping Winnipeg police officers would be coming soon.

In Winnipeg, first responders are set to administer more naloxone this year than ever before. Naloxone is the antidote that can counteract the effects of an opioid overdose.

RELATED: ‘It’s definitely a concern’: Postal workers on high alert over fentanyl risks

Through the first seven months of 2017, just over 500 patients received it. 727 got the drug in all of 2016.

Virtually all RCMP officers have been trained to administer the antidote and carry it with them in the field.

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