GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A Kent County sheriff’s deputy is OK after being exposed to cocaine while booking someone into the jail Tuesday morning.
The Kent County Sheriff’s Department said the deputy was going through a drunken driving suspect’s property when he found an “unknown substance” in a pouch.
“He immediately closed that pouch back up, but there was enough force there that some of the drugs were released, if you will, creating an exposure,” Kent County Undersheriff Chuck DeWitt said.
The deputy was wearing gloves but believed there could have been airborne exposure. He told his co-workers.
They didn’t know at the time what the substance was, so they used two doses of Narcan, which is used to reverse opioid overdoses. They noticed some symptoms of exposure, so they gave him two more doses.
“You are dealing with obviously an unknown substance and your mind automatically goes to, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s the worst.’ And the worst obviously right now is a fentanyl exposure,” DeWitt said.
The deputy was taken to the hospital, where he was treated and released later Tuesday.
Investigators eventually learned the substance was cocaine, which is not an opioid but may be cut with opioids.
There’s debate between some in law enforcement and the scientific community on just how dangerous accidental contact with fentanyl and other potent synthetic opioids is. But when you’re the one exposed to that unknown substance, the debate doesn’t mean much.
“You’re not only dealing with the signs and the symptoms of the drug but also the panic, the psychological factors that the officer is experiencing,” DeWitt said.
The sheriff’s department reminded people that they can find help with substance abuse by calling the National Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration helpline at 800.622.HELP (4357) or 211.