SMITHFIELD, R.I. (WPRI) — Police arrested a Johnston man over the weekend after an officer was possibly exposed to fentanyl in Smithfield.
The officer was called to the Season’s Corner Market on Douglas Pike Saturday morning for reports of a road rage incident, according to police.
Police said the officer spoke with both drivers involved, including 39-year-old Anthony Romano.
The other driver, according to police, told the officer Romano had threatened to shoot him after following him from Providence to Smithfield.
While searching Romano for weapons, police said the officer found a plastic bag containing a white powdery substance in his waistband.
He also discovered a brown bag containing 390 suspected Oxycodone pills, according to police.
Shortly after finding the plastic bag, police said the officer started not feeling well.
Smithfield Police Chief Richard St. Sauver tells 12 News the officer may have accidentally inhaled some of the powder inside the bag, which he placed on the roof of Romano’s car prior to searching the vehicle.
“The officer felt extremely dizzy, he was sweating profusely,” St. Sauver explained. “He was having great difficulty breathing.”
“What he did was, he took out his own Narcan from his pocket and gave it to another officer before he went down on his knees,” he continued.
The officer was given that one dose of Narcan before being transported to Fatima Hospital for possible fentanyl exposure, according to police. He was released from the hospital a few hours later.
“[The officer] felt like he had just run a marathon and was breathing through a straw,” St. Sauver said.
Both substances are being tested for fentanyl, according to police. It’s unclear at this time whether the officer’s symptoms were from fentanyl exposure, but St. Sauver said he trusts that his officers know the signs and symptoms.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) warns that the inhalation of airborne fentanyl powder can be harmful, whereas skin contact isn’t harmful so long as the powder is promptly washed off with water.
The DEA recommends first responders wear a face mask if possible and avoid actions that may cause the powder to become airborne. First responders should also avoid touching their eyes, mouths, noses immediately after handling potentially contaminated items.
Romano has since been charged with possession of more than 10 grams of cocaine and possession of over 10 grams of Oxycodone. He was arraigned and released on $10,000 personal recognizance and is scheduled to appear in court on Nov. 7.