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Fentanyl smoke exposure sends two deputies to the hospital

BOTHELL, Wash., May 30, 2023—The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed that two of its deputies were transported to hospital after secondhand exposure to fentanyl smoke in a routine nuisance complaint check.

At approximately 10:30 a.m. on Monday, May 29, two Snohomish County deputies were investigating a nuisance complaint near the 3900 block of 164th Street SE in unincorporated Bothell where they discovered an adult male sitting in the driver’s seat of a vehicle. After confronting the driver, both deputies began experiencing the effects of fentanyl exposure. It was later discovered that the driver smoked fentanyl in his vehicle shortly before both deputies arrived on the scene.

Medics were called and transported both deputies to the hospital — one to Swedish Medical Center in Mill Creek and the other to Swedish in Edmonds. The fentanyl exposure to one of the deputies was more severe; however, both deputies were released from the hospital on Monday afternoon and ordered to return to full duty by their next shift. No Narcan was administered.

The adult male driver was arrested for DUI but could have been facing far more serious charges if the incident took a turn for the worse.

“We have seen more of this in the past couple of years but a lot more in the past month,” Courtney O’Keefe, Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office PIO, shared with the Lynnwood Times.

On Sunday, May 7, an unresponsive 1-year-old baby was brought into Swedish Medical Center in Mill Creek where she was pronounced dead from a suspected fentanyl exposure; and less than a week later, Drug Task Force K-9 Sully was found unresponsive following an early morning on May 11. After administering three doses of Narcan, K-9 Sully began waking up.

At approximately 7:35 p.m. on Wednesday, May 17, Corrections Deputies called a medical emergency at the Snohomish County Jail when seven inmates suffered a fentanyl overdose. An Arlington man was charged with connection to this incident but the case is still being investigated.

Just last week on May 23, young children — an 11-month-old boy and his 11-month-old twin sister — were exposed to fentanyl in a South Everett hotel room and were transported to hospital for medical evaluations. The children along with their 11-year-old brother are now in the custody of Child Protective Services.

The Sheriff’s Office shared that the Drug Task Force is looking into procuring a K-9 that can detect fentanyl and the Control Operations Division is currently reviewing additional safety precautions and evaluation for county deputies in this new emerging work hazard — fentanyl exposure.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was made possible in collaboration with journalist Jonathan Choe.

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