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Edmonton venue adds naloxone to first aid arsenal as Alberta fentanyl crisis persists

Edmonton music venue adds naloxone
WATCH: fentanyl-related deaths in Alberta have exploded over the past few years. Now an Edmonton venue is taking the situation into its own hands. Julia Wong reports.

An Edmonton music venue is equipping itself for the province’s growing fentanyl problem with a naloxone kit.

Sewing Machine Factory, which hosts musicians, comedy and art shows, has been open for approximately six months and it recently added a naloxone kit to its first aid kit.

READ MORE: Fentanyl 101: The facts and dangers

Naloxone can be used as an antidote to a fentanyl overdose and can temporarily reverse an overdose, which allows the victim time to get medical help.

Employee Tabitha Woodford said she has been concerned about the fentanyl overdose issue, particularly since she works in the music scene.

“I know a lot of people who are casual drugs users just being in the music and art scene. It’s something I worry about just because I know there are people in my life who might be affected,” she said.

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“Wherever people gather to have a good time, drug use comes in and out of that.

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“It’s dependent on individuals and their own choices but I think where people party and where people have a lot of fun, drugs can come into play and it’s important to recognize that.”

Woodford recently signed up for a naloxone training course and, after it was over, she walked to a nearby pharmacy and picked up a naloxone kit.

Sewing Machine Factory currently has one naloxone kit on-hand.
Sewing Machine Factory currently has one naloxone kit on-hand. Julia Wong/Global News

Albertans have been able to get take-home naloxone kits from community pharmacies for free and without a prescription since May.

“I think it’s mostly, what if? I hope I don’t have to use it but if that situation was to arise, if there’s something I can do to keep someone safe, save someone’s life, why  not?” she said.

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READ MORE: Fentanyl overdoses killed hundreds of Canadians this year, experts say 2017 could be deadlier

Co-owner Greg Doucet said the venue has had the kit for approximately a month; it has not been used yet.

“[We] haven’t really seen the need for it but just like anything in a first aid kit, you hope you never have to use it but it’s always good just to have it on hand,” he said.

“As a business owner, it definitely puts your mind at ease knowing you’re prepared for any kind of situation that might happen.”

Doucet is hopeful the idea will catch on with other music venues and bars.

“I feel like it should be the choice of the venue or the bar… but I do feel like it’s an important thing to have,” he said.

“We’re not really here to tell anybody what they can or can’t do or what they should or shouldn’t do. It’s their personal choice. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared for it.”

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Sewing Machine Factory will be holding a naloxone training seminar on Jan. 23. Woodford said reception has been positive from employees as well as those who work in other venues.

“Pretty much everyone I know who works in a venue, we’ve had the conversation,” she said. “With the training seminar coming up, it’s been overwhelming how many people want to get involved and want to get educated and get their own kits just to prevent anything from happening.”

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