Five inmates and eight deputies in San Francisco County jail possibly exposed to fentanyl

A bag of heroin fentanyl pills. Eight deputies and five inmates at County Jail No. 4 in San Francisco County were hospitalized after possible exposure to the narcotic fentanyl, officials said.
(Associated Press)

Eight deputies and five inmates were exposed Tuesday at a San Francisco County jail to what officials believe was fentanyl, a powerful painkiller, resulting in the group being transported to nearby hospitals, authorities said.

At 5:33 p.m., deputies discovered an unresponsive inmate at County Jail No. 4 at the Hall of Justice on Bryant Street, according to a statement provided by the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department.

Deputies started lifesaving measures, including CPR, and called the San Francisco Fire Department. When paramedics arrived, they administered Narcan, a medication that can rapidly reverse an opioid overdose, to five inmates who showed symptoms of an overdose. The Fire Department transported the inmates to Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital.

The deputies who administered CPR were also exposed to the narcotic, which authorities suspect was fentanyl. Five deputies were also taken to three hospitals, and three more deputies who later showed symptoms were hospitalized, according to the department. Four deputies have been released, and all deputies are recovering, the department said. The inmates are conscious and under observation.

The Fire Department has cleared the affected area in the jail and shut down the entrance. Decontamination still needs to occur.

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid analgesic that is similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Some drug dealers mix fentanyl with heroin because it takes very little to produce a high with fentanyl, making it a cheaper option, the institute said. This is especially risky when people taking the drugs don’t realize they might contain fentanyl.