Emergency opioid overdose training kits feature Naloxone, a medication that quickly reverses the effects of an overdose from opioids such as heroin, methadone, fentanyl, and morphine. (Marcie Callewaert Photo)

Naloxone training saves lives

B.C. program teaches people to respond to opioid overdoses

MARCIE CALLEWAERT

Special to the Westerly

Naloxone, also known as Narcan, has become a household name in British Columbia over the past two years.

The rise in fentanyl and carfentanyl overdoses has brought this tragic crisis to the forefront of the media. On the coast, many of us likely thought we would be spared, but it has reached our streets and homes, too. Naloxone can restore breathing during an opioid overdose and reduce deaths, brain damage and other harm due to oxygen deprivation during an overdose.

There is no simple solution to this crisis. There is something every community member can do though, to take action.

Naloxone clinics are free and open to everyone. With every trained person, we are one step closer to saving a life when another overdose occurs.

WATCH: Naloxone Saves Lives video

Naloxone is simple to use and safe to administer. There are virtually no risks to giving it to a patient who is suspected of overdosing. Training sessions cover the signs and symptoms to watch for, procedures to open vials, how to draw and prepare the dose into the needle, and how to inject the needle. Needles are designed to retreat into the plastic case once injected so there is no risk of needle pricks after the dose has been given. Class participants will even get to practise giving doses into a training prop.

Tofino Fire Chief Brent Baker is a Naloxone educator and ran the first community training session on April 26 at the Tofino Fire Department.

“The session lasted approximately one hour and the feedback from the participants was very positive”, Baker said.

Community members with Naloxone training greatly assist first responders and paramedics.

“These are time sensitive matters that require quick thinking and action. The faster treatment can begin, the better the chances are of survival,” Baker said. “Whether we are involved, or are witness to an overdose, this is going to be an experience that may change your life and the best way to prepare for that is to have the knowledge to make a difference and to do so safely.”

BC Emergency Health Services, Island Health, Rural and Remote Division of Family Practice and the Nuu-Chah-Nulth Tribal Council have been working together “to identify any gaps in service and create a strategic plan to carry out public training sessions for the various communities on the coast,” according to Baker.

“Currently the working group is in the process of identifying appropriate times and locations for upcoming workshops in a number of other communities on the coast.”

Anyone interested in participating in Naloxone training should talk to their area health nurse for upcoming classes or one-on-one sessions as time allows. Many Indigenous communities also have classes running.

Contact the local public health administrator for more information at: 250-725-4020.

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