September 28, 2016 1:39 pm
Updated: September 28, 2016 5:48 pm

Edmonton police officers to carry naloxone spray

A nasal spray version of the overdose-reversing drug naloxone.

A nasal spray version of the overdose-reversing drug naloxone.

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Edmonton police officers will soon be equipped with a drug used to counteract the effects of powerful opioids such as fentanyl.

While a firm timeline hasn’t been rolled out, Edmonton police said they will soon carry naloxone spray. Naloxone is a life-saving drug that is used to temporarily reverse an overdose of fentanyl or other opioids, allowing the victim time to get emergency medical help.

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“The Edmonton Police Service is examining the potential for naloxone nasal spray to be carried by officers who have a high likelihood of coming into contact with fentanyl or fentanyl users,” a statement from the Edmonton Police Service said.

The move to equip Edmonton officers with naloxone comes after similar steps were taken earlier this month in Vancouver and Calgary, where police will also carry the antidote.

“Our front line officers and support staff are coming into contact with highly toxic opioid drugs like fentanyl on an increasing basis,” Vancouver Police Chief Adam Palmer said earlier this month.

“It is essential that we provide our staff with the medication that would be necessary in the event of an accidental exposure to toxic substances.”

READ MORE: Accidental overdose exposure prompts Vancouver police to carry naloxone

Late last month, Alberta Health Services released new numbers showing 153 people were killed by fentanyl-related overdoses in Alberta in the first half of 2016. Of those deaths, 43 were in Edmonton.

READ MORE: Alberta makes fentanyl antidote naloxone available in pharmacies

The numbers put Alberta on track to surpass last year’s death toll. In 2015, there were 274 deaths in Alberta related to fentanyl.

Watch below: New figures suggest Alberta fentanyl crisis worsening

Fentanyl is about 100 times more toxic than morphine, heroin or oxycodone. Fentanyl is often sold on the street as green beans, beans, green apples, apples, shady eighties, eighties, greenies or fake oxy.

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