Unknown substance sends officers to the hospital
Officials say the substance that sent six people, including two police officers, to the hospital Friday morning in Brooklyn tested positive as fentanyl.
Fifteen people were at Roxy’s Exotic Club on Madison Avenue just before 3 a.m. Friday when the overdoses occurred, according to Illinois State Police Captain Timothy Tyler.
Brooklyn Police Lt. Antonio White previously said contact through CPR is believed to have sent two officers, a bartender, two guests and an EMT worker to the hospital.
Tyler said the person they believe was using the fentanyl, a synthetic opioid which is 50 times more deadly than heroin, was in critical condition. Everyone else who was exposed was released from the hospital with no major issues.
The captain said he's become more and more concerned about fentanyl in the area due to its potency and stealth.
Last year, for example, Tyler said within two traffic stops, police found about 30 kilos of fentanyl. That is enough to kill about 10 million people — almost the entire state of Illinois.
When it comes to fentanyl, the equivalent of a few grains of salt can be fatal. Inhaling or brushing the substance with your fingers can trigger an overdose, Tyler said.
Tyler said the amount of fentanyl at Roxy's on Friday was less than 5 grams, about the equivalent of about two sugar packets.
"The thing with fentanyl is the smallest amount, like if you put just less than a gram in a room, it can knock out everyone in the room. It's a pretty hardcore substance, and it's happening everywhere," Tyler said.
Tyler said state police started keeping Narcan, the overdose reversal drug, in the evidence room just in case someone is exposed to fentanyl.
"I've got 26 years of experience, and I'm probably a little afraid of this," Tyler said about fentanyl and other synthetic opioids. "You never know where it is."
Opioid overdose deaths in the metro-east are on pace to reach records highs in 2018 due to the prevalence of fentanyl.
In St. Clair County, 12 out of 46 overdose deaths in 2018 were due to fentanyl or a fentanyl mixture.
In 2018 so far, 33 people have died from fentanyl-related overdoses in Madison County.
Karen Tilashalski, prevention specialist at Chestnut Health Systems, said Chestnut is going to start working with the Brooklyn Police Department to train them how to deal with fentanyl.
"We want to make sure officers can help the public but can also protect themselves," she said.
She also warned people about the dangers of being exposed to these drugs in public.
"I don't want to scare people, but when you go into a bathroom or somewhere with a powder, don't touch it. It can happen anywhere, and we need to be cautious," she said.
Editor's note: This story has been edited to clarify that the cause of the overdoses at the Roxy's Exotic Club was believed to be CPR.