Narcan revives local state police trooper after contact with opiate
LEICESTER — A Vermont state trooper on Friday night collapsed following a traffic stop in Leicester and was revived by multiple doses of Narcan, which is used to combat the effects of an opiate overdose.
The incident began at about 11:25 p.m. Friday, March 15, when Acting Sgt. Brett Flansburg of the New Haven barracks stopped a vehicle for a traffic violation on Leicester Whiting Road in the town of Leicester. While speaking with the driver, Sgt. Flansburg observed the passenger swallow an item. The passenger, later identified as Taylor C. Woodward, 25, of Brandon, admitted to the trooper that the item was a baggie of cocaine, police report.
During a subsequent search of the passenger and the vehicle, Sgt. Flansburg located and collected as evidence a small quantity of a substance believed to be heroin in a baggie, an empty plastic baggie and a syringe. Other troopers took Woodward into custody and transported him to the barracks for processing on suspicion of possessing heroin.
While transporting the evidence to the New Haven barracks, Flansburg began to feel ill, according to a police press release. When he arrived at the barracks, he called for help and collapsed in the parking lot. Fellow troopers found him unresponsive and rapidly administered two doses of the opiate overdose reversal drug Narcan. The sergeant received a third dose of Narcan while being rushed to the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington, and he began to show signs of improvement. At the hospital, Flansburg received additional medical treatment and later was released.
As a precaution, Woodward was taken separately to UVM Medical Center to be checked out and was determined to require no medical care. He was cited to appear May 6 in Vermont Superior Court, Criminal Division, in Middlebury to answer a misdemeanor charge of possession of heroin.
Col. Matthew T. Birmingham, director of the Vermont State Police, instructed VSP’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Narcotics Investigation Unit to conduct a full investigation of this incident. Testing is underway to determine the substance to which Sgt. Flansburg was exposed. The investigation is being led by Maj. Dan Trudeau, commander of VSP’s Criminal Division.
“Being a state trooper is a dangerous and demanding job for all the reasons you’d expect: apprehending criminals, encountering volatile individuals, rushing toward emergencies rather than away. And now there is a new threat that we’re seeing up close: the risk of exposure to powerful drugs that can kill in even tiny amounts. This is so troubling and disconcerting, and it places members of law enforcement at unnecessary risk of possibly losing their lives,” Col. Birmingham said in a press release.
“We are incredibly lucky and extremely thankful that Sgt. Flansburg is alive and recovering today,” the colonel added. “Were it not for the immediate availability of Narcan and the quick actions of his fellow troopers and medical personnel, we might be speaking today about the death of a trooper in the line of duty. I’m angry at how close we came, and relieved that the situation was no worse than it was.”
On Monday afternoon, Vermont State Police spokesman Adam Silverman said, “Sgt. Flansburg is currently on leave. It’s unclear how long that will last. The barracks is able to cover for his absence for the time being.”
Editor’s note: As noted in the story, the information presented comes from a Vermont State Police press release, except for the comment from the state police spokesman in the last paragraph, which the Independent got in response to questions posed to the official. We will report more information on this incident as it becomes available.
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