A 10-year-old Miami boy may be the youngest opioid overdose victim yet. Reports say toxicology tests reveal fentanyl, a potent painkiller, was in his system when he collapsed at his home in June.
Earlier that day, he was vomiting after coming home from a neighborhood pool. Investigators believe he may have unknowingly come into contact with the deadly opiate.
"If you get an opiate type medication on your skin, it can absorb into your bloodstream depending on how concentrated it is or how much there is, it can create overdose symptoms," said Capt. Kevin Saxton with Delray Beach Fire Rescue.
Fentanyl has been a leading killer in Palm Beach County. Just breathing it in, touching it, or standing too close can be deadly, that's why police and first responders wear gloves and protective gear when handling any substance.
"Well, that's the thing. We just don't know even if someone tells us that's heroin or that's fentanyl. We can't know for certain unless it's actually tested by lab," added Saxton. "The best thing for us is to treat it all like it's the most dangerous thing."
With widespread opioid overdoses, it's possible to come across the potent painkiller on the streets.
"It can be anywhere on the street, in a playground, these people don't care where they do it," said Laurie Linnel.
Linnel has never found syringes at her home, but her friends have.
"In their yard, their front yard," said Linnel.
Delray Beach Fire Rescue consistently responds to calls to dispose of needs and syringes and they want you to call.
"We don't want to leave that kind of thing for someone else to come by and find later," said Saxton.
During a ride along with Delray Beach Fire Rescue last November, a man dropped a small bag with tablets believed to be heroin. A police officer wore gloves to pick it up. Today's heroin is laced with fentanyl, and there's no telling if it's in the heroin or how much. Fentanyl can come in pill forms, tablets, even powder.
"It is very scary. If my daughter or my son would have came in contact with that, that would have been...wow," said Dorian Clark, surprised by what happened in Miami.
Clark is back in Delray Beach visiting family. He lives in Nashville now, but remembers a time when he never had to worry about these things in the city he grew up in.
"I used to walk from my house to the beach with my cousins," said Clark.
Now it's important for every parent to teach their children not to pick up anything off the ground.
If you come across any substance or needles or syringes, call 911 or your police department's non-emergency number so it can be properly disposed off. Do not touch or come close to the substance.
Scripps Only Content 2017