Inquest hears details about the morning Sault man was found unresponsive in his cell
Josh Dumanski, 31, died of a drug overdose in the Algoma Treatment and Remand Centre July 16, 2018. (O'Sullivan Funeral Home)
SUDBURY -- A coroner's inquest looking into the circumstances around the fatal overdose of an inmate at Algoma Treatment and Remand Centre in Sault Ste. Marie heard Wednesday details of the morning the inmate was found in his cell with no vital signs.
Joshua Dumanski died with lethal levels of both fentanyl and cocaine in his system July 16, 2018, while in custody at the Sault prison.
The timeline of events once Dumanski was found unresponsive were detailed by Blaine Boychuk, a level-one correctional officer with about seven month's experience who called the code green, signalling a medical emergency.
Boychuk was called to Dumanski's cell at breakfast around 8:05 a.m. Inmates were still on lockdown after one prisoner assaulted another earlier that weekend, so the meals were brought to each cell.
Boychuk said Dumanski's cellmate, Cody Cuthbertson, called him to the cell and said Dumanski wasn't waking up. Cuthbertson said in his testimony Tuesday he was strung out on drugs when he was brought into the prison that weekend.
Following protocol, Boychuk said he did not enter Dumanski's cell right away after both he and Cuthbertson attempted to wake him. Instead of calling a code green at that time, he said it took about six minutes to lock the inmates helping with breakfast back in their cells, get a second officer and return to Dumanski.
Life-saving efforts were performed by various staff, including CPR, using an automated external defibrillator, and an injection of Narcan by health care staff.
Despite having no vital signs, resuscitation methods continued while Dumanski was brought to the nearby Sault Area Hospital escorted by two correctional officers, where he was pronounced dead 40 minutes after being discovered unresponsive.
It is still unclear where Dumanski got the drugs inside the prison. The inquest heard that after being pressed with the seriousness of Dumanski's medical emergency, Cuthbertson told the sergeant on duty the man had taken cocaine. Cuthbertson said he did not see Dumanski with drugs.
The hearing is expected to wrap up by the end of Day 3 Wednesday with a jury possibly providing a list of recommendations.
Witnesses have included staff working in the facility as well as inmates incarcerated at the time of the death and health care professionals.
The jury has heard from both prison staff and a former inmate that drugs are a problem within the correctional facility.
Drugs are smuggled in
Despite having several searches and even a body scanner, several witnesses said illicit substances are still smuggled into the facility. It was revealed Tuesday that drugs have been known to be brought by being concealed in the body cavity of an incoming inmate. However, the searches are limited to inmates and do not include staff, visitors or volunteers.
Sgt. Kelly Kane filled in the details around the cell search Sunday morning after Dumanski had asked a correctional officer to get bring him in a contraband lighter in exchange for money earlier that morning.
Kane said she had Dumanski and Cuthbertson put through another round of body searches while officers looked for contraband inside the cell. Two items were found during the cell search, the note detailing the inmate's request for a lighter as well as a piece of clear plastic wrap found in the top bunk occupied by Cuthbertson.
The sergeant said she was not concerned about the plastic wrap, however, acknowledged the material has been known to be used in bringing drugs into the facility.
"They have been known to have drugs in clear plastic wrapping," said Kane.
She said no disciplinary action was given based on the results of the search.
Kane testified that in 2018 fentanyl wasn't a major issue, but it has now become a problem.
Over the last couple of years, access to Naloxone, a drug that is administered to someone to reverse the effects of an overdose, has increased at the prison. At the time of Dumanski's death, Narcan spray was only available to sergeants and health care staff rather than correctional officers.
Nurse Jane Smith testified that she had given Dumanski his anti-depressant medication the night before his death and recalls he was" a very good patient."
Wednesday morning Dr. Marlene Sruyt, the medical officer of health for Algoma Public Health, said that opioid use has been increasing exponentially over the last few years and the rates in northeastern Ontario are higher than the provincial average.
More to come on the jury recommendations.