Three High-School Staff Members Exposed to Carfentanil

According to local news, three staff members at a Tennessee high school were exposed to the synthetic opioid carfentanil on Tuesday. Two school resource officers and a school nurse at Sequoyah High School in Knoxville, Tenn., received treatment at the scene and at Blount County Medical Center, according to a report from the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office (MSCO).

MSCO originally reported that staff members had been exposed to the drug fentanyl through the vape pen of a 17-year-old student. They later clarified that the staff members had been exposed to carfentanil, which is more potent than fentanyl, and that the drug had been wrapped in paper and hidden within the device.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration reports that carfentanil is 100 times more potent than fentanyl, which in turn is about 50 times more potent than heroin. Symptoms of carfentanil exposure include difficulty breathing, drowsiness and clammy skin, according to the DEA website.

The MSCO reports that the student was being escorted to the school office for “causing a disturbance.” The vape pen fell from the student’s pocket in transit, and officers reportedly retrieved it and brought it to the school’s SRO office. An MSCO representative told local news that the officers were exposed to powdered carfentanil that had been tucked into the vape pen. According to WLVT News, “Both officers experienced symptoms, lost consciousness and had to be administered with Narcan, a reversal drug. Sequoyah High School’s nurse also experienced symptoms, was administered with Narcan and was transferred to the hospital with the officers.”

School Resource Officer Captain Rusty Vineyard told WLTV that he couldn’t confirm who administered Narcan to the nurse but that all teachers and administrators are trained in doing so.

The student in the office reportedly tried to escape and struggled with deputies. The student was restrained, taken to a local hospital for potential carfentanil treatment, charged with three counts of assault and one of possession, and transported to the Blount County Juvenile Center.

“As always, we will continue to work diligently to ensure the safety and security of all of our students and employees on a daily basis, and we appreciate the cooperation of our parents and community members in educating our children on the dangers of drug use and experimentation,” said Dr. Kristi Windsor, Monroe County Schools Superintendent.

About the Author

Matt Jones is senior editor of Spaces4Learning and Campus Security and Life Safety. He can be reached at