GAINESVILLE, Fla. – One of the Gainesville police officers who was rushed to the hospital after being exposed to a dangerous drug while responding to a disturbance is speaking out about his experience.
The officer, who wished to not be identified, said he feared for his life.
Back in August, News4JAX reported about the officers being exposed to what investigators thought was fentanyl at the time after the officers responded to a disturbance at a local convenience store. However, the lab results from the suspect’s confiscated drugs were identified as Dimethylpentylone -- a batch of dangerous bath salts.
The bodycam footage shows one of the officers suffering from drug exposure 15 minutes after they arrested a man who was in possession of a white powdery substance. One officer started to feel the effects of the drug inside the jail where he had taken the suspect to be booked, and the other officer -- whom News4JAX spoke with -- said he started to feel the impact when he was at the police station.
He also said he was struggling to breathe and that it felt like the walls were closing in on him. Co-workers called 911 as the situation started to escalate.
In the bodycam video, you can see a staff member administering Narcan. Then another 911 call is placed for the officer at the jail.
After both officers were administered Narcan, they were rushed to UF Health.
Dr. Molly Stott with the Florida Poison Control Center in Jacksonville said Dimethylpentylone exposure is very dangerous because it’s constantly being updated to avoid detection.
“Fast heart rate is definitely a sign of hemodynamic instability, which means your body simply can’t regulate itself any longer, and it can lead to more severe effects. Some of those effects being seizures, severe hallucinations, and sometimes it can lead to death,” Stott said.
Stott also explained how someone could be accidentally exposed to the life-threatening drug.
“Because these drugs are constantly evolving, we’re not quite sure about absorption. However, we do know that if it comes in contact with mucus membranes via snorting, that can be a major risk and that is one of the ways people are exposed to it,” Stott said.
The officer said it is unclear how he and his partner got exposed, but he is grateful they both survived.
“I don’t know if it was inhaled or somehow it got on us when we opened up the package because it was powdery,” the officer said.
The officer also said he would not wish his experience on anyone because it was one of the worst experiences of his life.
If you have questions about any dangerous drugs, you can call the Florida Poison Control Center at 800-222-1222 for more information.