By Pat Warren

BALTIMORE (WJZ)– A Harford County sheriff deputy speaks out after exposure to the opioid fentanyl during an effort to save someone’s life.

Pat Warren reports, he has words of warning about what that drug can do and added protections for first responders since the incident this week.

Deputy Kevin Phillips opened a drawer not knowing what was going to happen next.

“Didn’t move anything, touch anything, and then I just shut it and about two seconds after I shut it I started sweating profusely, my face started burning, I got very hot,” Phillips says.

The Harford County corporal was suffering symptoms of an overdose from exposure to heroin and fentanyl.

“I’ve been to hundreds of overdoses, I’ve done the same thing that I did at this overdose as all of those and never had a problem,” he says.

Once is enough. Since these drugs can be absorbed through the skin, the sheriff’s office is now outfitting first responders with protective gear, including masks, gloves, goggles, sleeves, and coveralls to reduce the risk of exposing themselves to the drug that may be killing the person they’re trying to help.

“It’s a game changer, fentanyl is a game-changer, carfentynl is a game changer even further and we don’t expect it to stop there,” says Major John Simpson of the Harford County Sheriff’s Office.

[Reporter: Did you think you could die?]

“The thought did cross my mind. Yeah, I definitely thought that.I was going up the stairs and I thought I was going to pass out. Yeah, I was just thinking of the carfentanyl and I just did not want to go out in that house.”

The anti-overdose treatment was administered to corporal Phillips. He responded to another drug overdose call the next day.

Out of 11 overdoses in Harford County in the last week, 3 were fatal. Nearly 40 people have died of overdose in Hardord County so far this year.

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