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West Kelowna firefighters can now administer anti-overdose drug

July 05, 2016 - 6:30 PM

WEST KELOWNA - First responders from West Kelowna Fire Rescue will now be able to administer Naloxone to people suspected of an opioid drug overdose and are one of the first departments outside the Lower Mainland to take the training.

According to the B.C. Coroners Service, West Kelowna has had two overdose deaths this year up until the end of May. The city also had two overdose deaths in 2015 and three in 2014.

Communications supervisor Kirsten Jones said in a press release all West Kelowna firefighters have completed training and are licensed to administer Naloxone, a drug that when administered within a short amount of time, can reverse the effects of opioid overdose.

Jones said West Kelowna firefighters have already responded to 23 overdose emergencies this year and responded to 38 cases in 2015.

B.C. is in the grip of an overdose epidemic largely attributed to the use of fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid that has been turning up in a variety of street drugs.

In mid-April, provincial medical health officer Dr. Perry Kendall declared a public health emergency and immediately began close tracking of live and fatal overdoses in an effort to get a better understanding of the situation.

The province as a whole has seen 308 overdose deaths in 2016 until the end of May. Kelowna has recorded 18 as has Kamloops over the same time period.

Since then, the Interior Health Authority has moved to make Naloxone available in all its primary hospitals and health care centres.

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