HAZMAT unit called to assist in Kaimuki death investigation after fentanyl is suspected
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A HAZMAT crew was called to assist in a death investigation in Kaimuki after officers discovered powder believed to be fentanyl, sources say.
Just before 6 p.m. Tuesday, a Honolulu Fire Department HAZMAT unit responded to a home on Pahoa Avenue. Sources told HNN a powdery substance was found as officers were investigating the death of a 28-year-old man.
“The standard protocol for our company, if they know it’s a hazardous materials environment, they dispatch HAZMAT to the scene right away,” said Hawaii Firefighter Association president Bobby Lee.
“They carry much more equipment. And testing equipment than the regular company.”
Sources confirm a field test conducted at the scene came back positive for fentanyl.
HFD officials say HAZMAT crews perform such tests using a handheld mass spectrometer. The device is used to identify unknown compounds.
Fire officials added that all firefighters wear personal protective clothing when they respond to any medical call.
Meanwhile, fentanyl overdoses are on the rise across the state.
Late last month, Hawaii’s Federal Drug task force issued a bulletin warning about an extremely potent batch of the drug that had been smuggled onto Hawaii Island. Big Island police say in just a week, the drug was believed to have killed three people and caused several more overdoses.
“To make it even more appealing, it’s manufactured in multiple forms to appeal to the youth. Like candy,” said Hawaii High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area executive director Gary Yabuta.
Officers on Hawaii Island recently confiscated hundreds of colorful fentanyl laced pills. Some were even packaged in Santa Claus baggies.
As the drug becomes more prevalent in the community, officials say parents need to talk to their kids ― adding every family should consider having Narcan in their medicine cabinet.
“It revives the person who overdosed on the opioid,” Yabuta said.
HFD says the department aims to have Narcan on all its fire trucks next month. Meanwhile, Lee says fire crews on Maui and Big Island already carry the antidote.
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