By Jim Melwert

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (CBS) — Police and first responders in Delaware County have a new tool that detects chemical compounds to identify drugs, explosives or other materials. Officials say – as the battle against the opioid epidemic continues – they hope it can help keep emergency responders safe.

Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan says out of concerns of overdose dangers connected to fentanyl and carfentanyl they’ve already instructed police to no longer field test suspected drugs. Now, he says the county has a device that can identify chemical compounds in seconds.

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“This laser technology without opening the container, without exposing the officer or first responder, can actually tell us what’s inside the container,” Whelan explained. “It also becomes key in protecting our officers in regard to exposure as we’ve indicated to fentanyl and carfentanyl is so dangerous and so extremely toxic.”

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Lieutenant Scott Bireley with Delaware County Detectives demonstrates the unit, identifying a packet of cocaine, heroin, and also a chemical often used in explosives. He says before this, they didn’t know what they were dealing with until they sent samples to a lab.

Whether it’s State Police or ATF, depending on what you’re suspecting,” Bireley said. “This just gives us a much more immediate response.”

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The progeny ResQ costs about $50,000, Whelan says it will be paid for by drug forfeiture money or federal funds targeting drug trafficking areas.