Kamloops firefighters respond to hundreds of overdose calls this year | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kamloops firefighters respond to hundreds of overdose calls this year

November 24, 2017 - 2:30 PM

KAMLOOPS - There’s more to the job of a firefighter than running into a burning building, but there’s one fire no one has been able to put out yet.

Kamloops firefighters have responded to more than 400 overdose-related medical calls so far this year and have had to use naloxone — a potentially life-saving drug for opioid overdoses — more than 40 times.

Kamloops Fire Rescue chief Mike Adams says since the overdose crisis began, his crews along with B.C. Ambulance, will respond to overdose calls. Often by the time crews have arrived, naloxone has already been administered to the patient, Adams says.

Take home naloxone kits have become popular in the past year after pharmacies and outreach agencies began making them more available.

The overdose crisis has been a public health emergency for less than two years, so certain information and statistics aren’t available, but Adams says a study is currently being conducted to answer some of the pressing questions.

“Right now, we’re in the process of doing a study to find out exactly where the bulk of these calls are coming from and working with our partners at RCMP and B.C. Ambulance to sort of identify what we would call hot spots,” Adams says. “It’s about... not drawing any premature conclusions as to causes or outcomes, so we’re certainly approaching it with an open mind.”

Adams hopes the information that comes out of the study can help determine some of the root causes behind the crisis, and help mitigate the high number of calls Kamloops Fire Rescue is seeing.

The constant calls can take a toll not only firefighters, but all first responders, Adams says, and it’s important front line workers are given the resources to deal with the things they respond to.

“The common term we hear out there is ‘compassion fatigue’ – when you see the same person on a regular basis who’s doing the same thing, there’s no change in their behaviour... it takes a toll on you,” he says. “We’re monitoring our staff and making sure we have the resources that are available to them so they can remain resilient and compassionate because that’s such a big part of our jobs.”

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ashley Legassic or call 250-319-7494 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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