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2 N.Y. county COs treated with Narcan after exposure to fentanyl in inmate mail

The officers were removing a powdered substance from inside an envelop to photograph it when they became light-headed


AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Update: The Oneida County Sheriff’s Department Employees Local 1249 has released a statement about the incident:

Dangerous situations are presented to our law enforcement group at Oneida County Correctional on a daily basis. The very serious critical incident today demonstrates our commitment to public safety. I commend our officers’ handling of the situation and the emergency response by Utica Fire. I look forward to the results of the investigation and the follow-through by our department and the district attorney’s office.

By Anne Hayes

ORISKANY, N.Y. — Two Oneida County correction officers were exposed to fentanyl while opening inmates’ mail, deputies said.

The officers were going through inmates’ mail Thursday when they observed an envelope with a powered substance inside, said Oneida County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Rich Paul. Both officers were wearing gloves while handling the power, he said.

The officers removed the powder to photograph it and became light-headed, Paul said. The symptoms the officers displayed were consistent with a fentanyl exposure, deputies said.

The powder tested positive for the presence of fentanyl, deputies said in a news release.

The officers were given Narcan by the medical staff at the facility to neutralize the drug’s effect before being taken to the hospital for evaluation, deputies said.

Deputies are not sure exactly how the officers were exposed, but they know they did not ingest the fentanyl, Paul said.

“Fentanyl can be absorbed into the body via inhalation, oral exposure or ingestion, or skin contact,” according to the CDC.

Both officers have been cleared by the Oneida Health Hospital and discharged, deputies said.

The area where the exposure occurred was decontaminated by the Utica Fire Department Hazmat Unit, deputies said.

Next: Why COs need to pay extra attention to incoming mail

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