Deputies and other personnel at a jail facility saved the life of a 19-year-old inmate who had stopped breathing after he and four other inmates apparently ingested the opioid Fentanyl under the mistaken belief that it was methamphetamine, authorities said Wednesday.
The incident occurred on Dec. 5 at the Inmate Reception Center in downtown Los Angeles, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department reported.
“During a routine welfare check of the inmates, sheriff’s department personnel discovered five inmates in the cell were unresponsive or disoriented,” a sheriff’s statement said.
“It was determined that one of the inmates was no longer breathing and had no signs of life. The custody personnel immediately began treatment and resuscitation efforts on the unresponsive inmate, while other personnel tended to four other inmates who were at various stages of medical distress,” the statement said.
Video of the lifesaving effort was circulated in the sheriff’s department’s Facebook page.
Deputies and medical staffers performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation and administered Naxolone, also known by the brand name Narcan.
The substance was recently approved for use by the sheriff’s department to be administered in conjunction with the ongoing lifesaving efforts.
“For more than five minutes, deputies and medical staff worked feverishly to revive the inmate, who continued to show no vital signs, while paramedics were called and responded,” the statement said.
Paramedics from the Los Angeles Fire Department then arrived and began additional treatment efforts.
“They intravenously administered an additional dose of Narcan to the inmate and after several seconds the man suddenly came back to life, demonstrating full vital signs,” the statement said.
The other four inmates were also undergoing medical treatment efforts, which also included the use of Narcan.
All five inmates were taken to a hospital. Four of them were released from the hospital within 12 hours after completely recovering. The fifth inmate made a full recovery and was released from the hospital after another 24 hours of observation.
“All five inmates have since been released from custody of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, with one inmate being transferred to another local law enforcement agency for an unrelated legal matter,” the statement said.
The investigation is continuing. One of the inmates was later found to be in possession of the opioid Fentanyl, which “he had secreted in a body cavity,” the statement said.
“It is believed he shared the potentially deadly drug with the four other inmates in the holding cell, apparently believing it was methamphetamine,” the statement said.
“Fentanyl can be deadly in small doses,” the statement said. “It is estimated that the amount of Fentanyl in the inmate’s possession could have caused harm or death to hundreds of people if exposed or ingested.”
Sheriff Jim McDonnell recently implemented a landmark pilot program in an effort to address the growing opioid and heroin epidemic taking root in Los Angeles County by distributing Narcan nasal spray atomizers, the sheriff’s department reported.
–City News Service
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