The increased prevalence of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids in the illicit drug market means that first responders need to understand how to protect themselves from exposure in the field.  Law enforcement, fire, rescue, and emergency medical services (EMS) personnel must balance safety with mobility and efficiency when responding to scenes where the presence of fentanyl is suspected.

The Fentanyl Safety Recommendations for First Responders, and the companion training video Fentanyl: The Real Deal, provide unified, scientific, evidence-based recommendations to first responders so they can protect themselves when the presence of fentanyl is suspected during the course of their daily activities such as responding to overdose calls and conducting traffic stops, arrests, and searches.

The Recommendations do not comprehensively address all scenarios. Other activities may require additional protective actions such as when conducting field testing, executing search warrants, collecting, transporting, and storing evidence, conducting special operations such as hazardous material incident response, executing search warrants on opioid-related processing or distribution sites, or participating in other tactical operations.

The Recommendations fall into three specific categories:

  • Actions first responders can take to protect themselves from exposure.
  • Actions first responders can take when exposure occurs.
  • Actions first responders can take when they or their partners exhibit signs of intoxication.

Please click here to access a printable version of the Fentanyl Safety Recommendations for First Responders that is best suited for 8.5” X 11” paper.  Please click here to access a printable version that is best suited for 11” X 17” and larger.


The Recommendations are the result of a Federal Interagency Working Group coordinated by the White House National Security Council. Stakeholder associations and organizations representing the medical, public health, law enforcement, Fire/EMS, and occupational safety and health disciplines provided invaluable input to inform the Interagency Working Group’s efforts, and their feedback helped ensure the Recommendations are operationally relevant, appropriately tailored to first responders, and conveyed in a user-friendly one-page format.

Departments and Agencies Represented on the Interagency Working Group

  • Department of Justice
  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • Department of Transportation
  • Department of Homeland Security
  • Office of the Director of National Intelligence
  • Office of National Drug Control Policy
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Drug Enforcement Administration
  • National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
  • U.S. Postal Inspection Service

“Collaborative Support From” the Following 24 Stakeholder Associations/Organizations

  • American College of Emergency Physicians
  • American College of Medical Toxicology
  • American Industrial Hygiene Association
  • Association of State and Territorial Health Officials
  • Association of State Criminal Investigative Agencies
  • Fraternal Order of Police
  • International Association of Chiefs of Police
  • International Association of Fire Chiefs
  • International Association of Fire Fighters
  • Major Cities Chiefs Association
  • Major County Sheriffs of America
  • National Alliance of State Drug Enforcement Agencies
  • National Association of Counties
  • National Association of County and City Health Officials
  • National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians
  • National Association of EMS Physicians
  • National Association of State EMS Officials
  • National Governors Association
  • National HIDTA Directors Association
  • National Narcotic Officers’ Associations’ Coalition
  • National Sheriffs’ Association
  • National Volunteer Fire Council
  • Police Executive Research Forum
  • Police Foundation