First responders double down on safety in wake of drug infiltration

NILES, Ohio (WYTV) – First responders are taking extra precautions to keep themselves safe while on the job. The recent drug poisoning of an officer in East Liverpool sends home the real danger of substances they face every day.

Patrolman Shawn Crank with the Niles Police Department said officers are coming across dangerous drugs sometimes by just pulling a car over.

“This drug epidemic has gotten even worse in the past few months,” Crank said. “The drugs are more dangerous than we’ve ever seen before. Even coming in contact with them changes the way that we have to handle the drugs.”

Officers in Niles are now told to wear Nitrile gloves and masks to avoid making contact. Crank said you have to treat situations with drugs these days pretty much like a hazardous materials scene.

Paramedics at Lane Life Trans are taking similar steps. Chief Operating Officer Randall Pugh tells his medics to be aware of their surroundings, double glove, wear masks, protective glasses, and if they feel necessary – a disposable gown.

“We have always had the equipment on the trucks, but we are enforcing and educating our people. You have to take care of yourself. Watch what you are getting into. If you don’t feel right with it, stop. Put the equipment on and then continue.” Pugh said.