Bay County Sheriff provides update on exposure to unknown substance at local emergency room


PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB)–If you were driving on Back Beach Road on Saturday, you may have noticed a heavy law enforcement presence outside of the Bay Medical Emergency Room. Multiple agencies responded to the emergency room after deputies and medical personnel were exposed to a dangerous and unknown substance.

According to the Bay County Sheriff, Tommy Ford, as of Saturday morning everyone who was potentially exposed had received medical attention.

Sheriff Ford described it as a “very intense situation, very scary situation”.

Ford said law enforcement personnel were affected or became unresponsive due to exposure to an unknown substance.

“We’re working to determine what it could be. Our best guess is potential for fentanyl or carfentanil,” said Ford.

He says it all started early Saturday morning when a man was arrested for possession of illegal narcotics.

On the way to the Bay County Jail, the suspect began having a seizure and was brought to the emergency room on Panama City Beach Parkway where the Sheriff says he became combative.

At about 8:00 a.m., the Sheriff’s Office says several medical and law enforcement personnel started to complain of abnormal physical symptoms.

“We had a Deputy that actually passed out and we had some nurses that were vomiting and came very close to passing out,” said Ford.

He says they administered Narcan, a medication that can reverse the effects of opiate overdose to the Deputy who then regained consciousness.

He says those who experienced symptoms had either treated or dealt with the suspect earlier Saturday morning.

He added that no other civilians were impacted by the incident and the facility has since been cleared of any other dangerous environmental effects.

“Bottom line is that right now everyone appears to be stable and safe and we’re all working together to find out what this is and taking precautions,” said Ford.

This investigation is ongoing. The Sheriff’s Office has still not released what the substance was.

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