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Fentanyl crisis leads to Lethbridge info session on how to treat an overdose

Fentanyl pills are shown in an undated police handout photo.
Fentanyl pills are shown in an undated police handout photo. Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT)

Nicole Losier is a 19-year-old student at the University of Lethbridge, and on Thursday night, instead of studying or hanging out with friends, she was learning how to save someone from a drug overdose.

“It’s just something I’m interested in because I’m a young person. I know a lot of people in the party scene, I party…I just thought it would be a good skill to have under my belt,” Losier said.

Losier doesn’t use fentanyl herself, but has been present when the deadly drug has been taken.

“If I know people in these situations, of course it’s going to worry me,” she said.

Watch below from 2015: Lethbridge Police Const. Chris Stock was called to a Kinsmen Park in Lethbridge for what he thought was an assault, but it turned out to be a fentanyl overdose. 

How worried should Losier be?

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Very, according to Jill Manning, the managing director at ARCHES in Lethbridge.

“Oftentimes we see people doing the ‘not in my backyard thing’ when it comes to drug use and we just can’t have that approach currently because this is a crisis that’s really affecting everybody,” Manning said.

The province said 343 people died from fentanyl last year in Alberta. Manning isn’t expecting that number drop in in 2017.

For now, all she can do is teach the public how to reverse the effects of an overdose with a medication called naloxone.

Watch below from March 6, 2017: Alberta PC MLA Michael Ellis joined forces with the other opposition parties to call for an emergency debate on the opioid crisis. 

Click to play video: 'Alberta PC party: ‘Nearly a death a day’ in 2016 due to fentanyl' Alberta PC party: ‘Nearly a death a day’ in 2016 due to fentanyl
Alberta PC party: ‘Nearly a death a day’ in 2016 due to fentanyl – Mar 6, 2017

Manning hosted a public information session Thursday night at the Lethbridge Public Library’s Crossings Branch, where she demonstrated how to keep someone alive in the event of an overdose until help arrives.

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“Not only do we complete this training with professionals, community members, concerned family friends, but the most important demographic to hit is users themselves,” Manning said. “Many of our users who access ARCHES services will come in on a weekly basis to get a new kit because they’re using them that frequently.”

There were no users in the audience, but thanks to people like Losier, one may just get a second chance at life.

“I’ll keep it in my room. Hopefully it’ll not ever need to be used, but when the time comes, it comes to good use.”

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