Bill to protect first responders from fentanyl exposure awaits governor’s signature

by | Apr 5, 2024

A bill awaiting Gov. Ron DeSantis’ review would impose new felony charges on individuals endangering first responders with fentanyl exposure.

A bill designed to shield first responders from fentanyl exposure is set to be reviewed by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Jay Collins would establish new felony penalties for individuals who recklessly expose emergency personnel to fentanyl and its analogs, if signed into law. According to a legislative analysis, the bill is a response to a growing concern over the risks fentanyl poses to first responders. Scheduled to take effect on October 1, the law would make it a second-degree felony for anyone 18 or older who, while unlawfully in possession of fentanyl, endangers first responders, leading to overdose or serious injury.

“A person 18 years of age or older who, in the course of unlawfully possessing dangerous fentanyl or fentanyl analogs, recklessly exposes a first responder to dangerous fentanyl or fentanyl analogs and an overdose or serious bodily injury of the first responder results, commits a felony of the second degree,” the bill reads.

Under the bill’s purview, “expose,” or “exposure” includes ingestion, inhalation, needle stick injury, or absorption through skin mucous membrane.

According to the Department of Health, Florida surpassed 4,000 reported fatal overdose cases in 2022, with the actual number likely much higher, as counties statewide continue to struggle with the introduction of counterfeit opioids.

In the Florida Department of Law Enforcement report, St. Petersburg recorded the most deaths caused by fentanyl at 654, followed by Ft. Lauderdale (611 deaths), Jacksonville (560 deaths), and West Palm Beach (547 deaths).

In 2023, however, Florida was among eight states that saw decreases in overdose deaths. This reduction was largely linked to several key factors including enhanced public health initiatives and educational campaigns aimed at raising awareness about the risks of drug use.



%d bloggers like this: