A rash of opiate overdoses at the Santa Barbara County Jail on Thursday was more widespread than originally suspected, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.
In all, 15 inmates and five custody deputies were treated for opioid-related symptoms, Lt. Erik Raney said Friday.
Initial reports were that nine inmates had been affected.
The incident began just after 2 p.m. Thursday when custody deputies were alerted to an inmate who had collapsed.
“Deputies and jail medical staff responded to render aid to the inmate, who was housed in a general-population, dormitory-style housing unit containing 27 inmates,” Raney said. “Nursing staff recognized that the inmate was likely experiencing an opioid related overdose.”
Narcan, an antidote to opioid overdose, was administered to the inmate, which began to reverse the effects, he said.
While emergency personnel were tending to the stricken inmate, others in the housing unit began experiencing various levels of suspected opioid-related symptoms, Raney said.
At that point, custody staff and responding jail medical staff were instructed to wear personal protective equipment in an effort to safeguard them from exposure.
Thirteen inmates were treated for opioid-related symptoms at local hospitals, and two were treated at the jail, Raney said.
Three custody deputies were treated at the hospital, while two others were treated at the jail.
“All of the deputies and inmates involved in the incident are expected to make a full recovery,” Raney said.
The housing unit’s remaining inmates were escorted from the dormitory, decontaminated, and monitored for several hours by custody and jail medical staff.
“During a search of the housing unit, investigators recovered suspected heroin from within the housing unit,” Raney said. “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 subsequently returned to the unit.