Vehicle accident leads to first responders’ exposure to unknown substance

earthquake, accident

GILMER COUNTY, Ga. – Two Gilmer Sheriff’s Deputies and five EMT/Paramedics are being treated for a kind of exposure today after responding to a single vehicle accident last night, May 19, 2022, around 7 p.m.

After deputies responded, alongside a state trooper, to the single motor vehicle accident approximately nine miles out Boardtown Road, just north of the intersection at Boardtown Road and Whitepath Road, county authorities began showing symptoms of exposure to a substance. At this time, the Sheriff’s Office believes the substance may have been Fentanyl. However, they are awaiting testing results to be sure.

The vehicle, a pick-up truck, contained a driver and passenger, when it impacted a tree. Both the driver and passenger sustained injuries during the accident and have since been transported to a hospital. According to a statement from Gilmer County Public Safety Director Keith Kucera, those on scene began treating the two for trauma related injuries.  The statement said, “While on scene, emergency crews were exposed to an unknown controlled substance that was in the vehicle. Two Gilmer Sheriff’s Deputies along with five Gilmer Emergency Medical Services crew members became symptomatic of exposure and were transported to local hospitals for treatment. All seven exposed members have been treated and released from the hospital.”

That investigation shut down the road as authorities called in Cherokee County Fire Department’s hazmat team to process the scene, collect several items for testing, and clear it for public travel again. At this time, the Sheriff’s Office stated it cannot be sure specifically what substances are or are not present. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), First Responders typically use a NIOSH-certified Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear (CBRN) Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) with a Level A protective suit when entering areas such as this with unknown or potential Fentanyl substances.

Kucera stated, “I would like to thank the brave men and women of the Gilmer County Fire Rescue and Gilmer Sheriff’s Office for their selfless efforts every day to keep the citizens of Gilmer County safe. I would also like to thank the partners who responded to support our agency while our crews were being medically treated from an extremely dangerous situation. The GA Office of EMS & Trauma, Region 1, coordinated regional mutual aid with ambulances from the following agencies: Pickens County, Fannin County, Gordon County, Murray County, Floyd Medical, and Redmon EMS. Additional support was provided by GA Department of Public Health, GEMA/HS, GSP, Cherokee County Fire/Rescue Hazardous Materials Team, and Fannin County EMA.”

The statement from the Sheriff’s Office did say that the deputies were in and out of consciousness but did not specifically state the extent of the symptoms that they or the paramedics showed. Reports indicate that while those exposed were initially take to Gilmer’s Emergency Room, the facility locked down while treating them to prevent further spread or contamination as they worked to find exactly what the substances was.

While the investigation continues into both the accident and the exposures, the Sheriff’s Office did state that those county authorities who were exposed have been released from the hospital this morning and are showing signs of improvement. However, no further details have been given about the accident, the possible substance, or the driver and passenger of the vehicle.

Leave a comment

Back to Top