A local Florida police officer was exposed to fentanyl Tuesday and lost consciousness. A spokesperson for her department reported that she is expected to make a satisfactory recovery.
According to police in Tavares, a city about 45 minutes northwest of Orlando, Officer Courtney Bannick pulled over a driver at the stroke of midnight. Inside the car and on the clothing of the vehicle’s occupants were “various types of narcotics and drug paraphernalia,” the agency said on Facebook.
According to a department spokesperson, Agent Bannick saw something rolled up on a dollar bill and barely opened it before realizing it was narcotics. She quickly closed it, but that brief exposure was enough to hurt her and make her sick.
The spokesman confirmed that the substance Bannick was exposed to was fentanyl, a super-strong synthetic opioid.
Several medical authorities have said that one type of incidental contact with fentanyl, like the one that happened to Bannick, is not enough for it to enter the blood system and cause overdose symptoms.
Before taking the suspects to the Lake County jail, Bannick called on the radio, where he was heard “out of breath and choking.”
An officer on scene recognized that Bannick’s voice “sounded strange” and approached him to see what was happening.
In a video posted to the post, the officer can be seen standing next to him as Bannick struggles between blacking out and regaining consciousness.
Passing out, Bannick is quickly surrounded by her companions, one of whom takes the drug Narcan, the emergency medicine used to treat an opioid overdose, and places it up her nostrils as she lies motionless.
“Come on, stay with me,” pleads another colleague.
After three doses of Narcan, rescuers arrived and Bannick was rushed to the hospital for treatment.
In an update on Wednesday, Tavares police said the policewoman is at home recovering and eager to return to work.
“I have done this 100 times before. It only takes a tiny amount to affect,” Bannick said. “I am grateful that I was not alone and that they could help me right away.”
Authorities said the footage of the incident might be too harsh to watch, but it is necessary to show the danger of drugs.
“Although Agent Bannick followed all the recommended protocols to protect herself and avoid being exposed to the drug (put on gloves and use personal protective equipment), due to the great wind it was doing, and a narcotic as powerful as fentanyl, the exposure it happened anyway, and it caused her to overdose,” the department said.
For their part, the two people whose car was stopped by Bannick now face felony charges of possession of narcotics.
Translation by Jorge Posada
This story was originally published on December 15, 2022 0:28 pm.