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Florida Senate Panel Advances Bill Making it a Felony to Expose Responders to Fentanyl *Centurion Insurance AFS*

Feb 28, 2024 (0) comment , , , , , , , , , , , ,


A Florida Senate committee on Tuesday approved an amended bill that could potentially reduce workers’ compensation costs for first responders in the state, people who are at increasing risk of exposure to accidental fentanyl overdoses.

Senate Bill 718, by Sen. Jay Collins, R-Tampa, makes it a felony and would require stiff penalties for people who recklessly expose law officers, medics and other responders to fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid that has found its way into illicit drugs around the world.

“It’s everywhere now,” said Cpl. Robert Palmer, of the Collier County Sheriff’s Department.

Palmer told the Senate Fiscal Policy Committee that he had to be revived twice with the anti-overdose drug known as Narcan during a domestic disturbance call. The victim asked him to carry some of her personal items. Within minutes, Palmer blacked out and nearly died because he had touched or breathed in fentanyl powder.

Medical and academic reports have differed greatly about how often first responders suffer health effects from inadvertent exposure to fentanyl on the job. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has recommended emergency responders take precautions, including wearing gloves and respiratory protection, when drugs may be present at a scene.

It’s possible that SB 718, if signed into law, would encourage drug users to be more careful about leaving fentanyl products within reach of first responders, and that could potentially reduce injuries and deaths.

A physician and member of the Democratic Women’s Club of Florida warned the committee that the bill would discourage people from calling the police if they believe fentanyl may be on their property. It also would lead to a larger prison population.

The bill, with minor changes, passed the committee, the second Second committee this month to endorse it. It now moves to the full Senate for a floor vote. A similar House bill is headed to the House floor.


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