The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office is releasing more information about suspected opioid overdoses of inmates and custody deputies at the Santa Barbara County Jail this week and say suspected heroin was found inside the facility.
Shortly after 2 p.m. Thursday, sheriff’s officials say custody deputies responded to a collapsed inmate who was housed in a dormitory-style housing unit in general population with 27 inmates.
The inmate was believed to be experiencing an opioid-related overdose and was given Narcan, which officials say began to reverse the effects.
At the same time, sheriff’s officials say others in the same unit began experiencing varying levels of suspected opioid-related symptoms.
With widening exposure, jail staff and emergency personnel requested to assist were told to put on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
“In all, thirteen inmates were evaluated and treated at local hospitals for opioid related symptoms and two were treated at the jail,” according to a press release. Five custody deputies were treated for opioid-related exposure – two at the jail and three at the hospital.
Officials say everyone is expected to make a full recovery.
The housing unit’s remaining inmates were escorted from the dormitory, decontaminated, and monitored for several hours by custody and jail medical staff.
Sheriff’s Office narcotics investigators initiated an investigation into the incident.
During a search of the housing unit, investigators say they recovered suspected heroin from within the housing unit.
How the narcotics were brought into the facility, and how the widespread exposure occurred are still under investigation.
The housing unit was cleaned and decontaminated, and the affected inmates were ultimately re-housed in the unit. Contraband in custodial settings is a concern across the nation.
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office Custody Operations Division remains pro-active in preventing contraband from entering the facility, and eradicating contraband that finds its way in, according to sheriff's officials.