7 Tenn. first responders transported for possible cyanide exposure

Officials said a bottle of potassium cyanide was found at the scene of a suspected suicide where first responders began feeling unwell


By Laura French

MT. JULIET, Tenn. — Seven Tennessee first responders were transported to the hospital after possibly being exposed to potassium cyanide.

The three firefighters, two medics and two police officers were rendering aid to an unresponsive man near a library in Mt. Juliet when a bottle containing the deadly chemical was discovered at the scene, Mt. Juliet Police Capt. Tyler Chandler said at a press conference Thursday. 

While lifesaving efforts were in progress, some of the first responders began to feel "adverse effects," including throat soreness and a metallic taste in their mouths, Chandler said. The seven responders were then transported to the hospital where they were kept on a six-hour hold as a precaution. 

The seven first responders were in good condition as of Thursday afternoon; Chandler said at the press conference that they were expected to be OK but would be monitored for the six hours as a precaution. 

The unresponsive man found at the library died in what police say is a suspected suicide. Officials believe the chemical may have been used to facilitate the suicide, but the incident remains under investigation. 

"We just want people to know if you have those thoughts that they can reach out to us for help. They can reach out to National Suicide Hotline for help. And we have professionals there to help you through this so it doesn't lead to this decision," Chandler said. "Because for us, as police, firefighters, as medical staff — every life is important to us. We want to be sure everyone is taken care of."

 

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