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like fentanyl or carfentanyl or drug labs are discovered.
State police or DEA Clandestine Drug Lab Teams have
the combination of specialized training and PPE to
safely mitigate these types of calls.
• Raman spectroscopy-based field instruments can determine if controlled substances, precursors, and other
cutting agents are present. Although these instruments are often part of the hazmat team instrument
capability, consider close cooperation with law enforcement specialized drug teams to ensure evidence
protection and other legal and safety issues.
The scenarios at the beginning of this article come
from real-life cases. They provide three very valuable
lessons. First, law enforcement, EMS, and fire and hazmat
must never become complacent. We all work in uncontrolled environments. Second, we must consider hazards
not usually associated with our primary mission when
planning a response operation. Third, fentanyl is one of
the latest evolving extreme hazards every public safety
discipline faces. With a proper understanding of the hazards and how to mitigate them, we can respond and safely
resolve this new and different type of call.
Authors’ Note: The opinions and statements contained in this
article are those of the authors only and do not represent the
opinions or interests of the New York State Police. The authors
thank Racheal Stubbs, forensic scientist, New York State Police,
Mid-Hudson Crime Laboratory, for her help with this article.
SHAWNE MAILE is an investigator with the New York State
Police Contaminated Crime Scene Emergency Response Team
and has been involved in narcotic investigations for 14 years,
with a specialty in investigating and processing clandestine
drug laboratories and indoor marijuana grow operations.
He is a State Police instructor for clandestine drug labs and
marijuana grows and has lectured on these topics to more
than 80 federal, state, and local law enforcement and first
responder agencies. He has been featured in training articles
and lectures for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration,
U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the Fire Department
of New York. He is a certified New York State hazardous
JERRY KNAPP is a 40-year veteran firefighter/EMT with the
West Haverstraw (N Y) Fire Department and a training officer at
the Rockland County Fire Training Center in Pomona, New York.
He has a degree in fire protection, is the chief of the Rockland
County Hazmat Team, and is a battalion chief and a member of
the Rockland County Hazmat Task Force. He is the author of the
Fire Attack chapter in Fire Engineering’s Handbook for Firefighter
I and II and of numerous articles for Fire Engineering. He is on the
technical panel for the latest Underwriters Laboratories study
on fire attack at house fires and recently retired from the U.S.
Military Academy, West Point, as the plans officer, Directorate of