First Responders In Windsor-Essex Learn Dangers Of Clandestine Drug Labs

More than 200 emergency first responders from across Windsor-Essex are learning how to deal with situations involving synthetic drugs.

The RCMP is hosting a day-long workshop for front-line police, fire and EMS staff who may encounter those situations.

Sergeant Brent Hill is leading the sessions and a large part of the day is explaining how to handle the dangers of a clandestine drug lab.

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RCMP Sergeant Brent Hill (photo by AM800's Peter Langille)

He says the kinds of drugs being dealt with cover a wide range of substances and different names such as methamphetamine, MDA, MDMA, Ketamine andFentanyl.

He says the emergency call the officer goes to can often turn out to be something much different: "there are a lot of people, emergency first responders that what environment they thought they were going to, changes immediately.  You go to a house call, a disturbance and you did not know or were not aware and did not intend to be walking into a drug lab"

He says there are some markers the first responder needs to be familiar with like a smell like a chemical or a sweet smell the smell or an acetone or a solvent or perhaps the reaction is happening right there in front of them. 

Sgt. Hill says the first thing that first responder should do is get out, because drug labs often have toxic, explosive or otherwise dangerous materials.

He says there are about 200 specially trained people in Ontario who can be dispatched in teams to deal with a drug lab.

They have special protective equipment and the knowledge to safely dismantle the equipment.

Sgt. Hill says this is the first time these workshops are being held and they're in communities all across Ontario.