WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Dave Joyce (OH-14) introduced the Protecting First Responders from Secondary Exposure Act with Congressman David Trone (MD-06). This bipartisan legislation aims to help state and local governments purchase containment devices, which are used to safely store narcotics and preserve them for evidentiary use, and provide subsequent training to reduce first responders’ risk of secondary exposure to lethal substances. The bill would establish the first federal program to provide local governments with resources to purchase containment devices. Companion legislation was introduced by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA).
“Fentanyl and other lethal substances are flowing into communities across Ohio at record rates, and first responders must be equipped with necessary protection to help ensure they are protected from these substances when responding to emergency situations,” said Congressman Joyce. “I am proud to introduce this bipartisan, bicameral legislation to support the health and safety of local law enforcement, and I encourage my colleagues in both the House and Senate to support this legislation.”
“We must ensure that members of law enforcement have access to proper safety equipment so that they can effectively protect themselves and the citizens they serve,” said Rep. Trone. “That’s why I’m proud to cosponsor legislation that will ensure all first responders have access to devices that will shield them from toxic substances like fentanyl or anthrax. It is our job to protect those who sacrifice so much to keep our communities safe.”
“First responders are on the frontlines of our efforts to combat illegal fentanyl and other deadly narcotics,” said Senator Brown. “Following our success in securing new screening devices to help prevent secondary exposure for federal law enforcement agents, I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan, bicameral legislation that will help give state and local first responders in Ohio the tools to protect themselves from these dangerous drugs.”
“Men and women of law enforcement put their lives on the line each day to protect us, and the federal government should be doing all it can to ensure our law enforcement officers receive protection in return,” Grassley said. “As fentanyl and opioids continue to flood into our country, the Protecting First Responders from Secondary Exposure Act couldn’t come at a more crucial time. This bipartisan bill builds on our PREVENT Act, which passed last year, and will equip state and local governments with the tools necessary to safeguard law enforcement officers in Iowa and across the country from lethal narcotics exposure.”
First responders are at risk of exposure to fentanyl and other lethal substances through inhalation, ingestion, skin contact, contact with needles, or contact via the nose, eyes, and mouth. There have been numerous reports from around the country where first responders have been exposed to lethal substances. In 2017, a police officer in Ohio overdosed after coming into contact with fentanyl while on a drug call. Containment devices will aid local law enforcement and first responders by protecting them from potential exposure. The Protecting First Responders from Secondary Exposure Act would enable state and local governments to use federal grants to purchase containment devices so that first responders can safely store potentially lethal devices and preserve them for use as evidence in criminal prosecution.
Representatives Fitzpatrick, Tenney, Schrier, D’Esposito, Dean, and Phillips joined Congressman Joyce in introducing this important legislation. The bill is endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police, the International Union of Police Associations, the International Association of Fire Fighters, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, the National Tactical Officers Association, the Sergeants Benevolent Association NYPD, and the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association.