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First Responder Showcase Highlights PNNL Opioid Detection Solutions

Biomedical scientist Ashley Bradley works in a specialized laboratory measuring substances’ chemical properties. The PNNL team uses such information to compile a library of data first responders use to identify hazardous substances, like fentanyl. Photo credit: Andrea Starr / PNNL

The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Virtual First Responder Capitol Hill Showcase highlighted PNNL work in fentanyl detection standards and database libraries.

The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate released video of presentations from the Virtual First Responder Capitol Hill Showcase in April. During the event, program managers highlighted several technologies and programs serving different homeland security missions such as emergency response, disaster resilience, and public safety. In particular, the Opioids Detection segment captured work led by PNNL’s Richard Ozanich, with standards support from Jonathan Forman, Frances Esquibel, and Owen Leiser and testing support from Ashley Bradley, Angie Melville, Danielle Saunders, and Kai-For Mo to update libraries that police, hazardous materials teams, and other first responders use to identify and understand hazardous substances they encounter in the field.

First responders rely on data libraries to identify illicit and deadly substances when they arrive on scene. Unfortunately, the substances are changing fast to evade detection. Keeping these libraries up to date helps responders stay prepared and stay safe,” Ozanich said.

In addition to expanding fentanyl libraries, the team leveraged feedback from more than 100 scientists, first responders, drug enforcement officials, and equipment manufacturers to develop three ASTM International laboratory standards. The standards help assess equipment and assays used by first responders to test unknown, potentially dangerous materials that may contain drugs.

“Standards help implement consistent testing and evaluation of equipment being considered for use by first responders. It also helps inform first responders’ procurement decisions so they get tools that best serve their needs in the field,” Ozanich said.

Source: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, adapted.

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