November 14, 2017 4:55 am

Civilians now being trained as first responders in effort to battle opioid crisis in B.C.

Naloxone is helping Saskatoon Fire Department paramedics save someone’s life in the event of a drug overdose.

Meaghan Craig / Global News
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The fight against the fentanyl-fuelled opioid crisis is fast seeing the frontlines shift beyond the traditional places we associate with overdose deaths: the Downtown Eastside or Surrey’s Whalley Strip, and into the homes of people out of sight of the first responders who could save them.

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It’s that realization that’s seeing a push into those out-of-the-way places, and one that groups like Megaphone Magazine and the Overdose Prevention Society overseeing the training of civilian first responders, with a series of what’s described as “storytelling nights.”

Facilitator with the group “How to Save a Life Frontline Stories”,  Jackie Wong, says they’ve had a few hundred people coming to these events so far.

“The hope is that people will be able to reverse overdoses that are happening in isolated areas like private residences, there’s nobody who’s died in an overdose prevention site while there are a number of people dying in private residences.”

READ MORE: 5 overdose deaths in Abbotsford in less than 10 hours

Frederick Williams with the Overdose Prevention Society explains why part of the response to stopping the deaths is to treat drug addiction like a disease.

“The stigma, there wouldn’t be such a negative stigma if people understood them a little better.”

The latest figures show that 1103 people have died of overdoses in B.C. this year, compared to 607 this time last year.

At least 80 British Columbians have died from overdose deaths in the province in September alone, according to the B.C. Coroners Service.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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