Fentanyl concerns prompt extra safety protocol at Bonnaroo

800 doses of Narcan available for officers
Posted at 6:54 PM, Jun 12, 2019

MANCHESTER, Tenn. (WTVF) — Law enforcement officials working the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival this year have changed their protocol to keep themselves and festival goers protected from a dangerous drug.

Coffee County Chief Deputy Frank Watkins said while it is illegal, it is no surprise guests experiment with drugs. However, with the recent case of two people overdosing on marijuana laced with fentanyl in a neighboring county, extra steps to stay safe are necessary.

"That's pretty much the predominant drug here at Bonnaroo is marijuana. So we're taking extra precaution when handling that when normally we wouldn't," Watkins said.

Fentanyl is a highly potent drug being abused amid the opioid crisis. Just two milligrams of fentanyl can be deadly not only for the user but emergency responders.

Fentanyl has been laced in heroin, meth and pills but officials are concerned that it can be found in a recreational drug like marijuana. Despite the positive case reported by Winchester police two weeks ago, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said it has not seen a case.

In collaboration with the Coffee County EMS, money was granted to supply officers working the festival with 800 doses of Narcan, a nasal spray that quickly reverses the effects an opioid overdose.

"We'll have the ability to restock and have that in case somebody needs it and we won't be out," Watkins said.

There are about 250 to 300 people from the sheriff's and police department, TEMA and Homeland Security at the festival this year.

Watkins said anyone who comes across any powdery substance or anything that may be laced will need a glove and mask to retrieve the item. It will be sealed in a double bag for evidence and placed in an air-tight container.

He encouraged festival goers not to be afraid to approach an officer in case of an overdose. He advised them to throw away uncapped drinks if it has been set aside and be weary of taking things from other people.

"Our big deal is to make sure they have a safe weekend."