Ofc. John O'Brien, PIO
Wednesday, February 3, 2021 at 3:23 p.m.
A suspected Fentanyl exposure sends three Spokane Police Officers to the hospital for treatment.
On January 31, 2021, around noon, Spokane Police officers responded to a report of a man slumped over his steering wheel for at least two hours in the area of 400 W. Joseph Avenue. Two Field-Training Officers (FTO), each with a new recruit, were dispatched.
The officers contacted a 29-year-old man who had an outstanding warrant for his arrest. The male was taken into custody and while searching him, officers found numerous pills, some that resembled Oxycodone. One FTO and his partner transported the arrestee to jail while the other team took the pills to the evidence facility.
While storing the pills at the evidence facility, one officer started having difficulty breathing. Medics were requested. The officers administered two applications of NARCAN and moved outside to fresh air. Both officers were treated at the scene then transported to an area hospital as a precaution. Spokane Fire Department personnel safely placed the pills into a container for storage.
Additionally, the recruit officer who transported the arrestee requested medics at the jail to evaluate the subject for potential adverse reactions to the pills. He did not require further medical treatment at a hospital. The recruit officer was transported to a hospital as a precaution.
The involved officers were treated and released and it appears the exposure will not have any long term affects. The evidence facility and the patrol vehicles were sanitized.
Even though officers wore gloves and were inside a large facility they still were affected by the unknown substance. Fortunately they only experienced difficulty breathing, light headedness and confusion. The outcome could have been significantly more tragic had the exposure been greater or were working without a partner that day.
Fentanyl is a potent, synthetic opioid that is 100 times more potent that morphine. Doses as small as a 2mg (less than a grain of sand) can be fatal even when airborne or when touched and absorbed through the skin. In October, Spokane Police Chief Craig Meidl and Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward joined the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, Bill Hyslop, and the Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration for this region to announce a coordinated Opioid/Fentanyl Outreach Initiative for the Greater Spokane Community. The outreach seeks to inform the community about the public safety and public health threats caused by an increasing influx of deadly Fentanyl into Spokane and Eastern Washington. For more information on the outreach effort and what you need to know to be safe visit https://www.justice.gov/usao-edwa/pr/coordinated-opioid-fentanyl-outreach-initiative-greater-spokane-community-announce
Officer John O'Brien