MIDDLE TENNESSEE (WKRN) ̵
Schaeffer is the EMS Director in Cheatham County, sensing the influence of the synthetic opioid. "We had three confirmed deaths from fentanyl this year," he recently told News 2. "If a patient has a needle in their arms, there's a chance that it's fentanyl because we know how deadly it is is, "he added.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention call it the third wave of opioid crisis. In the past week, the agency has reported amazing figures on fentanyl deaths. Five years ago, fatal accidents doubled every year. The drug was involved in 4,223 deaths in 2014. This figure reached 8,251 in 2015. And in 2016, the number of fentanyl deaths increased to 18,335.
According to Schaeffer, the number of fentanyl deaths in Cheatham County in 2017 increased from zero to ten in 2018.
" Alarming statistics. And nothing to be proud of " he added.
Dr. Michael Ferri is a psychiatrist and addiction specialist at The Next Door, a Nashville Center for Drug Addiction Treatment One Way who knowsingly or unknowingly can lead addicts into the world of fentanyl.
[ For the vast majority of Americans who become addicted to opioids, they start on pain pills. And pain pills are widely available ] " Ferri told us. " But once someone hooks on pain pills, he tries to get more and in higher doses, and at some point buy oxycontin) … such e things … off the road it gets too expensive, whereas powder heroin is available at a much cheaper price and for a better high. And then the Fentanyl comes into play. The drug dealers can reduce fentanyl to make it cheaper for a more effective product. "
The Drug Enforcement Administration (FDA) website shows that fentanyl was first developed in 1959 and introduced in the 1960s as an intravenous anesthetic. It is legally manufactured and distributed in the United States.
But illegal fentanyl is cheap to produce and is exported to Mexico and Asia from there. Last year, authorities at Nashville International Airport arrested a woman whose luggage contained nearly one million fentanyl doses. 22-year-old Reem Ibrahim told police that she was promised $ 1,000 to drop the luggage here.
According to the DEA, fentanyl can be injected, snorted, smoked, taken by pill or tablet and spotted on blotting paper. It is approximately 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin as an analgesic.
"Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid, so it is added in the same family of morphine and heroin and Demerol and all opioids  " Ferri . " What makes it unique is that it is incredibly powerful and
even a small amount of it can stimulate far more the opioid receptors in a person's body, up to 100 times more than morphine and Heroin can. "
Concern over the potency of Fentanyl has first responders. Last month, Metro officers were in an apartment in Hillsboro Pike when someone at the residence tried to flush a large sack of white powder into the bathroom. When an officer tried to stop him, the bag tore open and splashed across the officer's face. The substance had tested positive for heroin and when the officer became ill, he was taken to the Vanderbilt University Medical Center for fear of treatment because he may have been exposed to fentanyl.
Agents with the 18. Judicial Drug Task Force, which operates primarily in Sumner County, is so concerned that security measures have been taken, including respirators and protective clothing, to counteract possible exposure.
The task force director Kelly Murphy told Andy 2  of News 2 that an amount equal to five single grains of salt grains can overcome the human respiratory system. Additional arrangements are made after evidence has been collected. Double pack with warnings is the order of the day.
Americans are now more likely to overdose than car accident. In 2017, drug overdoses killed more than 70,000 people. Opioids including Fentanyl, are the leading driver.
" We continue to respond to overdose requests and support programs for people who depend on prescription drugs and street drugs, " Schaeffer says. " Yes, those numbers are real people, and it's hard for us to go further into people's families and tell them that their loved ones are dead because they've been overdosed. "
News 2 examines them Effects of fentanyl in Central Tennessee. We have special reports in every newscast all Thursday. You can also take part in the discussion during a live city hall broadcast at 6:  30.00. on News 2.