Fire chief suspects 6 NKY jail workers, inmate exposed to ‘fentanyl with some type of opioid in it’

Seven employees who were exposed to the contraband substance were “narcaned” and “treated for overdose,” the release states.
Published: Mar. 28, 2023 at 8:46 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 29, 2023 at 9:28 AM EDT
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Ky. (WXIX) - An investigation is underway after six employees and an inmate at the Grant County Detention Center were exposed to an unknown substance, according to the Grant County Sheriff’s Office and Williamstown Fire Chief Les Whalen.

Jailer Mike Webster, four deputy jailers and a nurse responded to a medical emergency in a cell sometime Tuesday, sheriff’s officials wrote in a news release.

The seven total people inside the jail who were exposed to the contraband substance were “narcaned” and “treated for overdose,” the release states.

All seven were taken to Grant County Memorial Hospital, the fire chief tells FOX19 NOW.

The six jail employees were treated and released late Tuesday, he said.

He said did not have an update on the inmate’s condition Wednesday morning and referred FOX19 NOW to the jail.

The inmate was found unconscious inside his cell at the jail, which prompted the fire department’s initial response there at 3:07 p.m. Tuesday, according to the chief.

“The inmate was in his cell unconscious is how the call came in,” Whalen tells FOX19 NOW. “When we got there, the jail staff was working with him. After we gave him some Narcan, he started to come around. They were searching his cot and one of the deputies opened up something and when he did I guess he got it on him. He started having issues and then shortly after the others started having symptoms.”

None of the jail staff passed out, but they were immobilized, he recalled Wednesday morning.

“They were sort of going down in the hallway of the jail, just not able to move. Everybody was breathing. They were able to talk, just had difficulty breathing, light-headed and agitated. Everybody was better after we gave them Narcan. For Narcan to work, it had to be some type of narcotic, fentanyl with some type of opioid in it. Narcan won’t work on anything other than what it’s designed to work on.”

Narcan, the name-brand version of the opioid antidote naloxone, reverses the effects of exposure to opioids including heroin, fentanyl, oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine and morphine, according to the National Institutes of Health.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) advises naloxone can be used as a precaution even in the absence of direct exposure to an opioid due to its safety and lack of serious side effects.

Kentucky State Police are assisting the Grant County Sheriff’s Office to investigate and remove the contraband substance from the jail.

FOX19 NOW has asked the sheriff’s office for an update on the inmate’s condition, his name and the status of their investigation.

We will update this story throughout the day.

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