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County Jail Corrections Officer Hospitalized After Exposure to Fentanyl an Inmate Had Ingested to Purposefully Overdose

The following is a press release issued by the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office:

On Tuesday, December 8, 2020, at about 9:12 AM, a Corrections Deputy heard an inmate speaking loudly from one of the cells. The inmate sounded emotional so the Deputy went to the cell to see what was happening. The inmate, a 50-year-old male, had just gotten off the telephone and told the Deputy that he was upset about the call. The deputy continued a conversation with the inmate in order to assess him and determine if he was okay. During their interaction, the inmate went unconscious and began to snore loudly.

The Deputy summoned additional Correctional Staff and Jail Medical Staff.

Once additional deputies arrived, the cell door was opened. The inmate was unconscious and pale. While staff was in the cell, they noticed a plastic bundle containing a suspicious substance. The plastic bundle was removed from the cell as medical staff arrived.

Jail medical staff assessed the inmate and immediately administered a dose of Narcan. After a second dose was administered, the inmate regained consciousness.

Emergency medical services were summoned by jail staff. After fire department and ambulance service personnel arrived, the inmate was transported to an area hospital so that he could be evaluated by emergency department personnel. During the transport, the inmate was given two more doses of Narcan by the paramedics. The inmate was treated and returned to the jail later in the day.

The discovering Corrections Deputy returned to the housing unit and continued with his duties. He went back to the inmate’s cell and removed the inmate’s property from the cell. Shortly after, the deputy began feeling ill. He went to his supervisor and reported that he wanted to go see the jail medical staff. The supervisor contacted the medical staff and had them respond to the deputy. Jail Medical Staff examined the deputy and based on their observations, administered a dose of Narcan to the deputy. The deputy immediately felt better. Jail Medical Staff requested an ambulance for the deputy so that they could be assessed at the hospital. The deputy was transported to the hospital via ambulance where he was held for observation and released later that same day.

After the incident, the contents of the plastic bundle were tested and came back presumptively positive for fentanyl, a powerful opiate. Specially trained personnel wearing hazardous material protective gear were brought in to decontaminate the cell.Jail staff also reviewed the phone call that the inmate made just prior to his overdose. During the telephone call, the inmate made comments of hopelessness and was emotional, indicating that the overdose may have been a suicide attempt. Based on that information, jail mental health staff was notified so that a mental health evaluation could be done.

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