SAN ANTONIO – It’s the latest tool in the fight against fentanyl.
The Bexar County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday unveiled its new policy aimed at protecting people in Bexar County from the synthetic opioid.
The eight-page policy outlines how deputies should handle people suspected of having taken fentanyl or of being exposed to it. Deputies are also changing the way they investigate fentanyl poisonings. Sheriff Javier Salazar told KSAT the goal of the new policy is to keep the drug off the street and save lives.
“We’ve had to change our way of thinking, certainly at the sheriff’s office [in regard to] fentanyl,” Salazar said.
The policy states that its primary goal is to “preserve lives…by utilizing techniques designed to stop the loss of life and expediting medical treatment.”
Now, all Bexar County patrol deputies and those who work in the jail are trained to administer Narcan (naloxone) when they suspect someone is overdosing on opioids.
“If we don’t do something drastic with this person, namely administer Narcan as soon as humanly possible, then we may be putting them at risk. And we don’t have the luxury of calling for EMS and waiting,” Salazar said.
In cases where someone has already passed away from fentanyl, deputies will treat those cases as homicides.
“If we have a suspected fentanyl poisoning, we need to get in there, get access to that cellphone, start locking down social media accounts. We need to act swiftly and definitively to get that evidence locked,” Salazar added.
Salazar told KSAT that step will help investigators find the person who supplied the deadly fentanyl, charge them, and therefore stop them from selling the drug to anyone else.
“I don’t think we understand as much about fentanyl as we should…if we [did], we would have a healthier respect for what this drug can do, what it is, and the potential that it has to be disastrous for families in our communities,” Salazar said.
For families like Christina Villagrana. Her life was forever changed by fentanyl. Her 28-year-old son, Kyle Hinkel, died from fentanyl poisoning last year in Adkins.
Villagrana hopes the sheriff’s new policy also inspires parents to talk to their kids about fentanyl.
“The kids still don’t understand that there’s fentanyl in [so many other drugs], so they can’t even experiment. They just can’t try it. And the parents need to be paying attention to it,” she said.