Dubuque police used Narcan on officer who got sick from powdery substance

Published: Apr. 4, 2019 at 4:06 PM CDT
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A Dubuque police officer is recovering at home on Thursday after officers used Narcan on him when became sick while executing a search warrant. Officers say he became unconscious while searching a home with drugs.

According to Lieutenant Joe Messerich, officers first responded to an apartment unit at 2095 Central Avenue for a domestic assault at about eight o'clock on Wednesday night. While inside, they saw drug paraphernalia.

"That's not too uncommon. A lot of times our officers will respond for one thing and then see evidence of another crime and have to investigate that as well," Messerich explained.

After securing a search warrant, officers went into the building. At about 10:20 p.m., an officer began to lose consciousness after coming into contact with a powdery substance.

Messerich said, "fellow officers administered Narcan, which is what we're trained to do in those types of circumstances. And the Dubuque Fire and Ambulance got there and transported the officer to the hospital."

Dubuque officers have carried Narcan for two years. It's a drug that can be used to treat an opioid overdose. Mercy Turning Point has trained hundreds of people how to use it.

"We have trained to this point approximately 600 folks, including EMS, law enforcement," community education nurse Gwen Hall-Driscoll said. "Law enforcement now did the train the trainer, so they take responsibility for training their people as well."

She believes it's an important tool to carry.

"Whether it's assisting someone you're working with, like in law enforcement, or if you have a family member or someone you know that's struggling with opioid use disorder, you have the capability of saving lives," she said.

The police department doesn't know what that powdery substance was, but there's the concern it was some sort of drug.

"Obviously that's the concern," Messerich said. "But until it's tested and we know for sure, we won't be able to say."

The department hopes to have a report on the substance in a few days. Messerich said the department doesn't know when or if the officer's name will be released.

On behalf of the department, Messerich thanks the community for their concern.

"The community was very supportive, expressed a lot of concern and that means a lot to our officers, so we thank them for that," he said.