6 employees hospitalized after exposure to fentanyl at Conn. prison

The prison has been placed on lockdown status while state police investigate

By Josh Kovner
The Hartford Courant

CHESHIRE, Conn. — Six staff members at the Cheshire Correctional Institute, including four correction officers, were hospitalized Tuesday for exposure to fentanyl, the synthetic opioid that is 50 times more powerful than heroin.

The fentanyl may have been contraband.

While Department of Correction spokesman Andrius Banevicius would not specifically discuss the source of the fentanyl, he said DOC personnel are vigilant about preventing contraband from getting into state prisons, and finding it if does get in.

A teacher and another member of the prison’s school facility were also taken to the hospital.

No offenders showed signs of fentanyl exposure, Banevicius said.

The exposure is being treated as a hazardous materials incident. A state police hazmat team and personnel from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection responded to the prison.

Beyond the six staff members who were taken to the hospital by ambulance, a number of other prison staff were moved to the DOC’s central office in Wethersfield.

An ambulance arrived at the prison at about 9 a.m. Tuesday “to transport a correction officer who was in medical distress,” Banevicius said.

An hour later, “a staff member from the facility’s school system also began feeling unwell,” he said. “Shortly thereafter, a school teacher and three additional correction officers reported feeling poorly.”

Banevicius said “all of the affected staff members remained consciousness and alert.”

Two staff members have since been treated and released from the hospital.

The prison has been placed on lockdown status while state police investigate and the DOC begins an internal inquiry.

©2019 The Hartford Courant (Hartford, Conn.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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