September 13, 2016 - 8:00 PM
VERNON - With a rising number of overdose deaths sweeping the province and a potent new drug on the streets, a Vernon politician believes police, first responders and city bylaw officers should all be carrying naloxone kits.
At the moment, naloxone — which can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose — is not carried by police, firefighters or bylaw in Vernon, but Coun. Bob Spiers thinks that should change.
“It can’t do any harm,” Spiers says. “They can save a life.”
In the first half of 2016, 371 people lost their lives to overdoses in B.C., with 60 per cent of those cases showing traces of fentanyl, a relatively new drug said to be 100 times stronger than heroin. As of May, 31 deaths within the Interior Health Authority region were linked to fentanyl — already ten more than in all of 2015.
A couple of weeks ago, Interior Health reported a spike in the number of accidental overdoses in Vernon — five within just 48 hours. All were revived with doses of naloxone and released from hospital with take-home kits.
According to a report from Vernon Fire Chief Keith Green, the department is already working towards readiness for administering naloxone. Nine first responders have completed the training and remaining members are set to be trained this fall. Training has been limited due to a manufacturer backorder of the Simu-dose ampule trainer, Green said.
Aside from potentially saving a life, Spiers believes police and emergency responders should be carrying personal naloxone kits to protect themselves if they come into contact with potent opioids like fentanyl in the course of their work.
“All it takes is one little grain of this fentanyl,” Spiers says. “They’re handling it, so just for their own safety, for the protection of our officers.”
The Vancouver Police Department recently announced an initiative to equip officers with naloxone nasal sprays in case they are exposed to drugs and suffer the effects of an overdose.
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