Faiivae’s field training officer, Corporal Scott Crane, said they had found the drug in a car and he advised Faiivae not to get too close.
Body camera footage shows Faiivae appearing disoriented before taking a step back and collapsing on the pavement.
“I grabbed him and he was OD’ing,” Crane said.
In the video, Crane can be seen administering Narcan – which reverses overdoses and has become a crucial weapon in the fight against opioids – while trying to keep Faiivae focused on breathing.
“I couldn’t breathe,” Faiivae says, recalling the exposure as tears well up. “I was trying to grasp for breath, but I couldn’t breathe at all.”
“It’s an invisible killer. He would’ve died in that parking lot,” Crane said.
The fire department arrived on the scene and drove Faiivae to the hospital.
“I don’t think people realize the severity of how deadly it really is,” Faiivae said.
The sheriff’s department told Fox News Thursday that Faiivae does not remember much from the incident and has not yet returned to work.
The department remains unsure of how Faiivae was exposed to the drug – whether it was airborne, or absorbed on his skin.
Fentanyl is 50% more potent than heroin. Being exposed to just a few grams can potentially have deadly consequences.
The San Diego Sheriff’s Department says fentanyl use is on the rise in California, having increased roughly 46% in the last year.
Meanwhile, the amount of fentanyl seized at the border by Customs and Border Protection increased again in June as part of a continued surge in seizures of the deadly drug, which are now 78% higher in fiscal year 2021 so far compared to all of the last fiscal year.
Fox News’ Adam Shaw contributed to this report.