B.C. prison guard treated after suspected fentanyl exposure

Three haz mat crews on their way to Alouette Correctional Centre

B.C. Corrections has confirmed that a female guard at Alouette Correctional Centre for Women in east Maple Ridge was taken to hospital on Friday when she became unwell when searching the personal effects of an inmate being admitted to the prison.

“A swab of the area tested positive for hash, oxycodone and potentially fentanyl,” but corrections could not confirm what the staff person may have been exposed to.

“We can confirm that there was no incident of an inmate or staff member overdose,” said Jason Watson, with B.C. Corrections.

“The staff member was treated by onsite health care and is fully recovered. As part of standard protocol, the staff member has been taken to the hospital for further assessment out of an abundance of caution.”

In an unrelated matter, Watson said, an inmate is scheduled for hospital transfer to treat their personal health needs.

“Inmate health and safety is a top priority and B.C. Corrections’ medical, mental health and substance abuse supports reflect this.”

Watson added the corrections branch maintains zero-tolerance regarding the use of drugs within correctional centres.

“There are stringent security measures in place to deal with contraband in all of our correctional centres. Inmates found with contraband can face internal charges under the Correction Act Regulation, as well as criminal charges.

“Despite all of the security measures and strict protocols that we have in place, it is important to remember that inmates will sometimes take extraordinary measures to obtain contraband. B.C. Corrections is acutely aware that this can result in a risk of overdose for inmates, which is why medical professionals are available to assist in emergencies and naloxone is readily available in custody.”

Dean Purdy, with the B.C. Government Employees Union said drugs inside correctional facilities are a big concern, especially fentanyl.

“It’s a big concern for us and something we’ll be following with Corrections branch management.”

Purdy also confirmed that wires that had falled down in the area blocked access to the prison and temporarily delayed response by paramedics.

B.C. Corrections has taken action to mitigate the risks posed to both staff and inmates by high-potency narcotics in correctional centres by:

• increasing access to opioid agonist treatment and supporting counselling for inmates with a history of substance use;

• increasing health care service delivery levels to meet the needs of inmates with addiction to opioids;

• reviewing and making changes to policy, practices and procedures to increase staff safety;

• and implementing new technology and emergency response tools.

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