Tennessee police officer, baby exposed to fentanyl

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LORETTO, Tenn. (WKRN) – A Loretto police officer and a two-month-old child were exposed to fentanyl during a drug overdose call.

Thankfully, the child suffered no ill affects, but the officer had to be narcanned for exposure to the potentially lethal substance.

It happened at around 10 a.m. on Wednesday, December 15th. Officer Gary Mills responded to an overdose call in the parking lot of a Dollar Tree.

“As I approached the vehicle, I could hear a baby crying,” Officer Mills said.

Mills approached the red car that was parked with the engine running.

According to Mills, the driver Elizabeth Smith, 34, was slumped over the center console and he heard a child crying in the back seat. With the help of people from the store, they opened the car’s door and safely removed the child.

Mills told News 2 he turned the car off and then revived Smith, who he said was under the influence of narcotics.

Mills searched Smith and found a dollar bill with a powdery substance inside it.

“I asked her what it was and she said, ‘Crushed percocet pills,'” Mills said.

Later in the day, Mills went back to the police station to log his drugs into evidence. That’s when the veteran officer said he accidentally spilled some of the powder on his bare skin.

Mills said he immediately tested the powder for fentanyl, and it came back positive.

“Well, I knew then. I said, ‘I’m in trouble.’ I was there by myself. I had no Narcan. So I got a hold of dispatch and told them to get an ambulance en-route to my location. Within just a couple of minutes, I started with the sweats, the nausea, the dizzy,” Officer Mills said.

With the nearest ambulance in Lawrenceburg, some 15 miles away, Mills drove his police cruiser toward the hospital.

News 2 has obtained dash camera video Mills driving north. As he communicates with other first responders coming to his aid, you can hear the concern in his voice.

“I think it’s fentanyl on me. Yeah, I’m sweating now,” Officer Mills was heard saying.

At the hospital, Mills was given two doses of Narcan.

“They popped me with a double dose of Narcan. That stuff is amazing.”

Almost immediately, his condition stabilized. He stayed at the hospital for many hours for continued observation before being released.

Because of the fentanyl contamination, Mills’ police car and the police and adjoining fire departments must also be decontaminated.

Mills told News 2 fentanyl is a relatively new drug in Loretto, and he and his fellow officers have learned a valuable lesson from his scary ordeal.

“I done something that I would chew any of our officers out for. Just being in a hurry, and not using my head. It’s my fault, you know, that I got exposed to it, but this being a fairly new drug in our area, we don’t know much about it,” Officer Mills said.

Mills said he is going to request that Elizabeth Smith be charged with reckless endangerment for exposing him and the baby to dangerous fentanyl.

Mills also told News 2 his department plans to meet with county officials and drug experts to discuss how to handle fentanyl cases moving forward in the small community.

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