Two Inmates Nearly Die From Narcotics Overdose In Minnehaha County Jail

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Two Minnehaha county jail inmates nearly died yesterday after overdosing behind bars. Sheriffs say both were experiencing cardiac and respiratory arrest, clinging to life.

It was a close call. Two inmates both overdosed on an unidentified narcotic.

“We had two drug overdoses in our jail within minutes,” said Minnehaha County Sheriff Mike Milstead.

The two received medical care from staff, firefighters, and paramedics. In the end, it was Narcan that saved their lives. Without the lifesaving overdose prescription drug, Milstead believes the two would not have survived.

“I believe I would be here talking about two deaths in the jail from yesterday,” said Milstead. “I feel very fortunate to be here to talk about two lives saved as opposed to two lives lost.”

Milstead says a jail is a supervised environment with medical staff. Someone who overdoses alone at home rarely survives an overdose like this. He says medical staff members are the reason the inmates are alive today.

“[They] were brought back from the edge of death,” said Milstead.

About 20,000 inmates find their way to Minnehaha County Jail every year. There’s an extensive screening process where jail staff looks for drugs. Inmates even walk into a machine similar to the ones TSA uses at airport security. However, it’s incredibly difficult to find such small quantities of drugs, some as small as two grains of salt.

”You spend a lot of time and energy trying to prevent it and obviously as evidenced yesterday, we don’t find it all,” said Jeff Gromer, the Minnehaha County Jail Warden. “We spend a lot of time and energy.”

The sheriff says this is a problem beyond jail cells. Milstead says family members of drug addicts should think about keeping Narcan on them.

“About the same number of people who went to Super Bowl in Minneapolis, about 64,000 people, died in the U.S. just last year of drug overdoses,” said Milstead. “It’s a skyrocketing issue.”

An issue so troubling that Milstead has a message to members of our community that are thinking about their next drug score:

”I’d encourage them to make their final arrangements.”

In the highest risk areas in the Midwest, law enforcement has seen a 200 percent increase in heroin seizures in a two-year period. Milstead says his department needs more funding for prevention problems to tackle this growing problem in the community.

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