Close Call for First Responder in Williamsport

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WILLIAMSPORT -- Police in Williamsport are being called to heroin overdoses every day. Thursday an officer was taken to the hospital for possible second-hand exposure to the drug. First responders are there to protect you but what happens when the situation becomes so dangerous they have to worry about protecting themselves?

"It really don't surprise me no more. You just hear about it every other day,' said Rickie Dewitt.

Rickie Dewitt is talking about the very real and serious opioid epidemic that's affecting so many in the Williamsport area. Dewitt knows firsthand about the dangers because he's a recovering addict.

"You're not only affecting yourself you're affecting everybody around you not only you're family, like this officer that got hurt trying to save the people," said Dewitt.

This week a police officer responding to a drug-related call was rushed to the hospital after showing symptoms of being exposed to heroin and meth.

"It's unknown if the officer maybe inhaled something or brushed up against something but it was definitely a scary situation,” said Captain Jody Miller.

Here's what police say happened. Still daylight, two officers were called to the parking lot of the Turkey Hill on Washington Boulevard.

Passersby noticed Laura Lewhart and Justin Volino of Tannersville going in and out of consciousness in their car.

"They eventually did search the car they found 200 bags of suspected heroin as well as five grams of methamphetamine," said Captain Miller.

That's when one of the officers started to feel sick.

"At that point, there was serious concern the officer was suffering from second-hand exposure to either fentanyl or some other chemical,” said Captain. Miller.

Captain Jody Miller tells Newswatch 16 that officer is doing well. Now they're hoping to use their close call as a reminder to other first responders.

I really feel bad for the officer himself because he was here to good to clean up to help out but he ended up getting hurt in the end,"

Both people from Tannersville are behind bars on drug-related charges. Captain Miller says his officers should be commended for working diligently to respond to each drug case. The department is looking into adding more safety measures.




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