‘It can happen just that quick’: Local law enforcement on Southern California deputy’s fentanyl exposure


SAN DIEGO (KGPE) – The Madera County Sheriff’s Office is speaking out about the dangers of fentanyl – after a Southern California sheriff’s deputy almost lost his life to an accidental overdose.

In a video from early July, San Diego County Sheriff’s Department deputy David Faiivae can be seen fighting for his life after being exposed to trace amounts of fentanyl while searching a suspect’s car.

In the body camera footage released Thursday, Faiivae can be seen searching a suspect’s car for drugs after an arrest. Moments after he and his partner confirm there is fentanyl in the car through a test, Faiivae collapses to the ground.

Fortunately, his partner had Narcan on hand, a drug taken through the nostril in a spray form to help revive those who have overdosed on opioids or fentanyl. Faiivae said in a video released by the San Diego Sherriff’s Department he hopes his story can help others.

“I don’t think people realize the severity of how deadly it is,” he said.

Commander Bill Ward with the Madera County Sheriff’s Office says that fentanyl, which is a synthetic opioid, is becoming more and more common, as are overdoses.

“That video was chilling and it can happen just that quick,” Ward said.

Ward says all deputies are equipped with Narcan and protective gear because of the dangers of fentanyl exposure through accidental ingestion or by touching the drug. 

“Personal protective equipment, gloves, masks, are used whenever we’re dealing with a substance that might be fentanyl or a narcotic.”

Ward says fentanyl is becoming all too common in false prescription drugs being sold on the street and being mixed with other substances, and that coming in contact with just a few grains of the drug could be fatal.

According to the Fresno County Coroner’s Office, nearly a third of all drug overdoses in 2020 involving a combination of drugs including fentanyl.

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