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Two officers taken to hospital for fentanyl exposure, part of police headquarters evacuated

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Mara H. Gottfried

Pioneer Press

Two St. Paul officers were taken by ambulance to a hospital after a likely fentanyl exposure while they were conducting routine drug testing Monday morning, according to the police department.

They were treated at Regions Hospital and released.

The sergeant and officer, who are assigned to the narcotics unit, were doing the testing in the property room of police headquarters on Grove Street, near Lafayette Road. “Both started to feel woozy,” Police Chief Todd Axtell wrote of the incident.

One used Narcan on himself, the other called for help, and St. Paul fire paramedics arrived.

“I’m so incredibly thankful they’re going to be alright,” Axtell wrote. “I’m also impressed by their calm demeanors during a potentially deadly situation, the quick work of their colleagues in our property room and the medical professionals with St. Paul Fire and Regions Hospital. If not for the quick thinking and expertise of everyone involved — including the officers who were exposed to the drug — this incident could have had a much different outcome.”

Hazardous materials experts from the fire department assessed the building’s air quality, and the basement and first floor of police headquarters were evacuated. The basement’s separate HVAC system was shut down, as was the system in the rest of the building as a precaution. People in the rest of the building were told to stay in place during the assessment.

About an hour later, they determined the air quality was safe and access to the first through sixth floors was reopened, Linders said. The police department is looking into what happened.

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