Fentanyl: Dangerous for all, deadly for children

Published: Nov. 8, 2021 at 6:17 PM PST
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) -As dangerous as opioids like fentanyl are to the rest of us they are doubly so to the very young, something confirmed again with Sunday’s incident in which a nine month old toddler was exposed to the drug in a Galena area home and was resuscitated by Truckee Meadows firemen.

“Kids are vulnerable,” says Adam Heinz, Executive Director of REMSA. “They’re not like small adults. Their physiology is completely different. So when they are exposed to these substances it can be very bad.”

The danger is obvious in a home where this powerful painkiller is being misused, but the rest of us should be paying attention as well because the danger isn’t exclusive to those homes.

“There are people in our community who are taking medications that are prescribed by doctors,” says Heinz. “They may not necessarily think that it could be very toxic or deadly to a kid. That may be prescription pills that have opioid. It may be fentanyl or NORCO or Percocet.”

Emergency medical personnel have seen accidental exposures from pills, even patches.

“Those things end up in the waste bin and sometimes kids go in and they think its a sticker or a bandage and the put it in their mouth or on them and it can lead to an unintended serious even deadly consequence.”

Emergency treatment is much the same as in an adult, NARCAN or naloxone, but doses have to be sized down accordingly. When REMSA responds to any emergency involving a child, they arrive prepared with information and special equipment packs to help them tailor the care to the child.

“We have a special bag that has kids-sized, specific for their age and weight equipment that allows us to rapidly be able to provide that treatment. We have a lengthy tape that allows for us to get dosages quickly based on projected weight. We have protocols that are electronically available on our mobile phone to allow us to reference to ensure that we are providing the right care to that patient which is a child,” said Heinz.

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