At least five times a day, Winnipeg paramedics rush to save a person who overdosed on drugs, the majority of the time that drug is fentanyl.
Every chance paramedic Cory Guest gets, he tells teens what he sees on the streets.
“Law enforcement and our health system has tested every illegal drug in our country and every illegal drug except marijuana has tested positive for fentanyl,” Guest told the grade seven, eight and nine students at Isaac Brock School Thursday.
Many of the students had never heard of fentanyl before.
Guest told students paramedics must do drastic things to keep a person alive when they overdose.
“When your airway fails we’re going to secure it with one of these tubes,” Guest said, showing the students the tube they use. “We can ventilate you through this tube, we can suction you through this tube.”
Guest has spoke to more than 50 schools and made over 100 presentations on fentanyl, hoping to educate people so if they come across the drug they know what it is and its effects.
Students like Kharla were shocked to learn that in a matter of a year, the number of people who overdosed in Winnipeg doubled to more than 1,500 people who needed to be revived with the fentanyl antidote, naloxone.
In 2015, 761 people needed naloxone given to them, in 2016, 1,512 people needed the life saving antidote.
School Principal Melody Woloschuk has seen how devastating the drug can be. She’s attended two funerals for former students who died after overdosing on fentanyl.
“I have seen it first hand,” Woloschuk said. “I’ve seen their friends suffer and their family suffer and it’s heart wrenching.”
While Guest says not every person dies from an overdose, they can end up living with serious mental and physical challenges.
“There are young adults, late teenagers we’ve heard of that are now living in a nursing home because half of their brain function is gone.”
Giving students in Winnipeg all the stark, disturbing facts so one day they’ll make the right decision.