California sheriff: He, not doctor, diagnosed video overdose

Aug 9, 2021, 12:58 PM | Updated: Aug 10, 2021, 4:30 pm
In this image taken from police body camera video and provided by the San Diego County Sheriff's De...

In this image taken from police body camera video and provided by the San Diego County Sheriff's Department, San Diego County Sheriff's Deputy David Faiivae gets aid from an officer, after being exposed to fentanyl on July 3, 2021 in San Diego. A public safety video that told viewers the deputy had a near-death experience after being exposed to fentanyl used the actual footage, the San Diego Sheriff's department said Monday, Aug. 9, 2021, after critics questioned the deputy's severe reaction. The video shows "an actual incident involving the deputy as he processed a white powdery substance that tested positive for Fentanyl," a department news release said. (San Diego County Sheriff's Department via AP)

(San Diego County Sheriff's Department via AP)

SAN DIEGO (AP) — San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore, facing sharp criticism from health experts over a public service video that purports to show a deputy’s near-death experience from fentanyl exposure, acknowledged that he, not a doctor, concluded the deputy overdosed.

Experts strongly challenged Gore’s finding after the dramatic, four-minute video was released Thursday, saying it fueled misunderstanding and unsubstantiated fears about the danger posed by very limited contact with fentanyl.

During the search of a vehicle last month, Deputy David Faiivae reported his face came within about 6 inches (15 centimeters) of a white, powdery substance that tested positive for fentanyl, an opioid that is 50 times more powerful than heroin. The video from police body-worn cameras shows Faiivae stagger backward, fall to the ground and struggle to breathe.

According to an incident report released Monday, Faiivae wore gloves and safety glasses but not a mask. He remembered feeling light-headed before collapsing.

Health experts have long said overdosing from skin contact or inhalation of fentanyl is extremely unlikely, which was news to Gore. The sheriff told The San Diego Union-Tribune that the department assumed such exposure could result in an overdose.

“If we were misinformed, so be it. We are trying to correct (it),” he told the newspaper.

Researchers who have studied reported overdoses from fentanyl exposure among emergency responders found cases can best be attributed to the “nocebo effect,” a phenomenon in which they believe they encountered a toxic substance and therefore experience expected symptoms, according to a study by medical experts published last year in the Harm Reduction Journal.

“When individuals are already operating under acute stress and with few mental health reserves, fear of overdose from touching fentanyl could serve as an additional stressor,” the authors state.

Gore, a former FBI official who is not seeking a fourth term next year, said he had concluded after seeing the body-worn camera footage that the deputy exhibited “classic signs of fentanyl overdose.”

“I’m sorry, my mind didn’t go to, ‘Oh, our deputy fainted. Our deputy had a panic attack.’ It just didn’t go there. What was the other logical explanation — to my mind, it was overdose from the drug, from fentanyl,” Gore said. The sheriff promised to release full, unedited video of the incident and to seek medical records of the deputy that presumably would show if he overdosed.

The sheriff’s department said neither Gore nor Faiivae were available for interviews Tuesday.

An online petition organized by Dr. Ryan Marino, a toxicology expert and assistant professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, and Lucas Hill, clinical assistant professor at the University of Texas, Austin College of Pharmacy, urged news organizations to correct what it said was the sheriff department’s erroneous account. They said it was signed by more than 350 drug experts, including health professionals.

“This is dangerous misinformation that can cause harm to both people who use opioids and to members of the law enforcement community,” the petition reads.

The Drug Policy Alliance, a group that advocates for decriminalization and safe drug use policies, called the video irresponsible.

“Content like this simply creates more fear and irrational panic that fuels further punitive responses to the overdose crisis, instead of the public health approach we need,” said Kassandra Frederique, the group’s executive director.

In the video, Faiivae, a trainee, approaches the white powder found in a Jeep’s back storage area in the San Diego suburb of San Marcos.

“This stuff’s no joke. It is super-dangerous,” Cpl. Scott Crane says before Faiivae collapses.

Faiivae is administered naloxone nasal spray, which reverses the effects of a drug overdose, after he is shown on the ground. Crane tells the deputy he won’t let him die.

The deputy later recounts what it was like, unable to breathe, gasping for air and then passing out.

“It’s an invisible killer,” Crane says on the video during a sit-down interview after the incident. “He would have died in that parking lot if he was alone.”

Gore struck a somber note at the end of the public service announcement to emphasize the dangers of opioids, saying to the camera that exposure “to just a few small grains of fentanyl could have deadly consequences.”

Two professional groups — the American College of Medical Toxicology and the American Academy of Clinical Toxicology — said in a joint statement in 2017 that the risk of significant exposure to fentanyl is “extremely low” for emergency responders. The authors noted reports of responders feeling dizzy or like the body was shutting down or dying, but finds, “Toxicity cannot occur from simply being in proximity to the drug.”

___

Associated Press writer Julie Watson contributed to this report.

___

This version has been updated to correct the spelling of Deputy David Faiivae’s last name.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

A flyer seeking information about the killings of four University of Idaho students who were found ...
Rebecca Boone, Associated Press

Victims’ families urge love, kindness as Idaho campus mourns

As hundreds of students mourned together inside the University of Idaho’s stadium Wednesday night, family members of four slain classmates urged them to raise their eyes from grief and focus on love and the future.
19 hours ago
Associated Press

Tesla delivers electric semis to PepsiCo at Nevada factory

DETROIT (AP) — Tesla delivered its first electric semis to PepsiCo Thursday, more than three years after Elon Musk said his company would start making the trucks. The Austin, Texas, company formally delivered the trucks at a factory near Reno, Nevada. The event was livestreamed on Twitter, which Musk now owns. Musk drove one of […]
19 hours ago
FILE - Policemen pin down and detain a protester during a protest on a street in Shanghai, China on...
Associated Press

China security apparatus well honed to deal with protests

BEIJING (AP) — When it comes to ensuring the security of their regime, China’s Communist Party rulers don’t skimp. The extent of that lavish spending was put on display when the boldest street protests in decades broke out in Beijing and other cities, driven by anger over rigid and seemingly unending restrictions to combat COVID-19. […]
19 hours ago
Associated Press

EPA proposes restrictions to block proposed Alaska mine

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday proposed restrictions that would block plans for a copper and gold mine in Alaska’s Bristol Bay region that is home to the world’s largest sockeye salmon run. A statement from the regional EPA office said discharges of dredged or fill material into the waters […]
19 hours ago
President Joe Biden speaks during a news conference with French President Emmanuel Macron in the Ea...
Associated Press

Biden to Dems: Scrap caucuses, promote diversity in primary

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden said Thursday that Democrats should give up “restrictive” caucuses and move to champion diversity in the order of their presidential primary calendar, dealing a major blow to Iowa’s decadeslong status as the first voting state. In a letter to the rule-making arm of the Democratic National Committee, Biden does […]
19 hours ago
Former Liberal Party staffer Bruce Lehrmann leaves the ACT Supreme Court in Canberra, on Oct. 27, 2...
Associated Press

Prosecutor drops Australian Parliament House rape charge

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — A prosecutor said Friday he had dropped a rape charge against a former government adviser because of the life-threatening trauma a trial would cause the woman allegedly assaulted in a Parliament House office. Former government staffer Brittany Higgins alleges a more senior colleague, Bruce Lehrmann, 27, raped her in a minister’s […]
19 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
California sheriff: He, not doctor, diagnosed video overdose