5 Wash. county inmates overdose, survive thanks to staff training

"A quick-thinking nurse brought him back," said an inmate about one of the recent overdoses


By Emily Fitzgerald
The Chronicle, Centralia, Wash.
        
OLYMPIA, Wash. — Five inmates at the Thurston County Accountability and Restitution Center overdosed on an undetermined substance within the last month, the Thurston County Sheriff's Office confirmed Thursday.

Four of the overdoses happened on Oct. 15 in J Dorm, which, according to an inmate, houses a chemical dependency program group for inmates recovering from substance abuse disorders.

"One kid was dark blue, not breathing, dead," described one inmate in a letter to The Chronicle. "A quick-thinking nurse brought him back."

The fifth overdose occurred on Oct. 26.

Jail staff administered naloxone, also known as Narcan, a medication that rapidly reverses the effects of an opioid overdose, to all five inmates. They each received followup medical treatment and have since been cleared to return to the jail.

Jail staff regularly carry Narcan and are trained in identifying overdoses and using the drug to counter an overdose, according to Lieutenant Cameron Semper, a spokesperson for the Thurston County Sheriff's Office.

"Despite our best efforts, we're aware that narcotics may get into our correctional facility," said Semper, adding that the jail staff's training and preparation paid off in this case.

The sheriff's office is awaiting test results to determine the substance the inmates overdosed on, but the sheriff's office has confirmed the substances consumed in each overdose stemmed from one source, which has been identified.

"Now that we have identified the source, we can investigate and prevent this from happening again," Semper said.
    
(c)2021 The Chronicle (Centralia, Wash.)

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