Needle Sticks During Non-Search Activity
Gordon Graham here with Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Today’s Tip is for law enforcement, EMS, and corrections.
There are situations where we should be on the lookout for needles – not just during searches.
Today’s tip is directed primarily at my friends in law enforcement but there is an application to EMS and Custody folks, too. Today’s tip deals with the risk of hypodermic needle sticks. And not just during searches.
Law enforcement and custody officers are well aware of the dangers of hypodermic needles. Because of this, officers seem to be very cautious when searching for known I-V drug users. And when searching their vehicles and other belongings.
But because we can’t always know if the person we are searching has a needle, we should always follow a safe search protocol. But there are other times where we should be on the lookout for needles too.
For example, does your agency have a prescription drug dropbox? If so, there is probably a “no sharps” warning attached. But people don’t always follow instructions. If you are assigned to empty the box, you should use extreme caution. You should use puncture-resistant gloves and safety procedures to protect you from a needle stick.
The same precautions should be followed if you are handling drug evidence that another officer collected or packaged. Let’s face it. Cops don’t always follow instructions either.
When you collect a needle as evidence, package it correctly. Follow your department protocol. Do not place the evidence in your car, in your gear bag, or in your pocket unless you are 100% certain it won’t fall out and it can’t poke you. More than one officer has learned this lesson the hard way reaching in to retrieve the evidence later.
And don’t forget to treat expended TASER probes with this same degree of caution.
It is predictable that you will encounter used needles even when you’re not searching anyone. Please do your part to prevent needle sticks.
And that’s Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Gordon Graham signing off.