Pubdate: Thu, 08 Mar 2018
Source: London Free Press (CN ON)
Copyright: 2018 The London Free Press
Author: Randy Richmond
Page: A1


Deadly fentanyl is tightening its grip on London's jail, with reports
of several female inmates overdosing early this week, one needing five
doses of naloxone spray to be revived.

Twice in the last week, large amounts were found on women trying to
smuggle the druginto the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre (EMDC),
sources say.

The province confirmed Wednesday four female inmates were found in
medical distress Monday night.

"Staff acted quickly in attending to the inmates and calling 911.
Paramedics arrived and transported three inmates to the hospital,
while the other inmate was attended to by staff at the facility," said
Andrew Morrison, spokesperson for the Ministry of Community Safety and
Correctional Services.

"All three inmates taken to the hospital have since returned to the

The province can't reveal the nature of the medical emergencies, he
said. But a source at EMDC said at least three female inmates suffered
overdoses, with a large amount of fentanyl found on one.

One inmate required several, perhaps five, doses of overdose-reversing
nasal naloxone to recover, the source said.

A second source said a female inmate was charged last week with trying
to bring in a large amount of pure fentanyl.

The synthetic opioid is 100 times more potent than morphine. Even the
smallest amount can cause an overdose.

As large amounts of the deadly drug began making their way into London
last year, correctional officers warned of the impact at the jail,
where smuggling in drugs has long been a problem and where inmates
battling addiction and mental illness seek respite from long days and
nights with little to do.

Since last summer, three male inmates have died of suspected overdose,
with fentanyl identified by sources as the drug.

It can be difficult for correctional officers to detect small amounts
of the drug in body cavities, even using an X-ray body scanner.

Fentanyl, wrapped in plastic, on the scanner looks like feces and may
not prompt any action, correctional officers say.

The province has policies and practices in place to deter contraband
and to deal with the opioid crisis, Morrison said in an email.

"Nasal naloxone is available in all institutions for a nurse or
operational manager to administer when an opioid overdose is suspected
and training is underway to give correctional officers the same
ability. Upon release from provincial custody, the ministry
distributes naloxone nasal spray kits directly to at-risk inmates," he

Fentanyl's deadliness has correctional officers at EMDC and other jail
across Ontario concerned about their safety when searching for the

Staff are provided personal protection gear to perform searches,
Morrison said.

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About fentanyl

* Used in pill, patch and powder form for long-term pain management,
often for chronic conditions.

* 100 times more powerful than morphine.
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