MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – “You never know what you’re gonna get. You know, you can get a barking dog call that can turn into an aggravated burglary and a kidnapping,” said Sergeant Shanna Grice with the Montgomery Co. Sheriff’s Office.
In late February, Grice was called to assist with a female search at a traffic stop.
“I did the female search, felt an unknown object, at that point, we detained her, placed her in the back of my patrol car to be able to take her to a more secure location for a more detailed search,” Grice explained to News 2.
A short way down the road, Grice noticed the woman falling unconscious in the backseat.
“I pulled over and immediately radioed it out, opened up my patrol car and she fell on me,” Grice said, “She was completely out.”
That’s when Grice noticed a baggy of drugs in the woman’s mouth.
“Removed the drugs, held her up, starting checking her pulse, starting calling for backup, advising what I was doing, I ended up administering Narcan,” she said.
With several doses of Narcan, the woman returned to consciousness, but it didn’t end there.
“I turned around like ‘Woo! We saved her!’ and I’m completely covered in a white substance,” Grice recalled.
A test revealed the substance was fentanyl. Ingesting the amount of a pepper flake is enough to kill a person. The amount in the bag, the sheriff’s office says, was enough to wipe out the entire county.
Grice’s miracle, she said, is something she teaches her young officers– listen to your gut.
“I have a standard procedure after I do a search, I take my gloves off and I have a container I discard them in my patrol car. When I got in this time, I actually started to peel them back, and I was like ‘Ahh… I need to leave these on’ and I left them on,” she said.
Grice was carefully decontaminated and showed no symptoms of ingesting the drugs, but it’s a danger only becoming more common. The county says they administer Narcan to at least three patients a day.
“The problem we’re having now is that you know, it used to be you had marijuana, our guys are picking it up, but we can’t touch anything anymore. Everything is laced out there, that’s the problem, it’s just getting worse and worse and worse,” Grice explained.
It’s an epidemic in this country, now more deadly than firearms, with people like Sergeant Grice on the front lines.
“You don’t want harm to come to you, but it’s not the first thing on your mind. It’s this a problem, I’ve got to fix this, this is an action that we have to take and we need to do it,” Grice said.
The sheriff’s office had to decontaminate Grice’s patrol car and replace her uniform, costing about $3,000 dollars.
There are no charges for exposing law enforcement to a deadly drug, but the woman is facing 6 charges including simple possession.