BALDWIN COUNTY, Ala. (WKRG) — It is being called a “crisis” in Baldwin County. Fentanyl-laced heroin, cocaine and other narcotics are flowing into Baldwin County communities reflected in a staggering number of overdose deaths in the past three years. Now law enforcement is focused on doing something about it.

“This is one of the most severe obstacles we have ever faced in Baldwin County,” says Sheriff Hoss Mack. To prove his point, he released body camera footage of recent calls of overdose victims saved only by use of Narcan, a nasal spray used for opioid overdoses, something Mack calls “the resurrection” drug.

“Fentanyl can be very fine, it can be finer than cake flour,” he says, and it is unique because it can be transmitted from the person using a drug to someone else. “It’s not necessarily about the amount that is being used but the fact that it is so deadly,” says Mack.

In 2021, four Baldwin County deputies almost lost their lives after being exposed to Fentanyl. “Just the mere touching of it can dust it up to where it becomes aromatic and if you inhale that.”

It happened to 23-year-old Baldwin County Deputy Lee Banks and it was all captured on his body camera. He had stopped a stolen vehicle in Elsanor. Inside the truck were pills, methamphetamine and Fentanyl.

“I come to the rear of my vehicle to clean my handcuffs,” he says as he watches the bodycam footage. “I just took my gloves off. At some point I start, I’m not able to catch my breath. I start feeling lightheaded, tingly and I go down.” In less than 30 seconds he collapses. Officers rush to his side realizing it is a Fentanyl exposure. He gets two doses of Narcan and a trip to the hospital. “Every time I see it,” Banks says watching the video, “I’m just thankful really.”

Others have not been so lucky. The Baldwin County Coroner’s office reported the number of overdose deaths tripling over the last three years. “A majority of those had Fentanyl itself or a combination of Fentanyl with another drug,” says Mack.

Courtesy: Baldwin County Coroners year-end report

“Whenever I overdosed, I was pretty much at a point where I didn’t want to live anymore.” Marshall Metz is surviving his addiction.

“What was your drug of choice I didn’t have one I just did all of them. A lot of it was pills then transformed into heroin and Fentanyl.”

For most of his life, he has been a drug addict. Only after being arrested did he reluctantly find sobriety. That was five years ago. Now, he helps those still struggling as a counselor at a local rehabilitation clinic. “Anytime anybody is purchasing a pill on the street, it is probably 99 percent sure it’s going to be Fentanyl.”

Only a trace of Fentanyl can kill says Mack. “Fentanyl can be anywhere from a hundred times to a thousand times more potent than heroin itself.”

The illegal use of opioids will never stop, but one way law enforcement hopes to slow it down is by charging drug dealers with homicide or reckless manslaughter when someone dies from drugs they sold and enhancing penalties when a first responder or innocent bystander is exposed to Fentanyl simply trying to save a life.