Edmonton firefighters have used naloxone 110 times in less than 1 year
A quarterly update to Edmonton city councillors about the opioid crisis revealed some new numbers about how many times naloxone has been administered in the city.
The latest report from Alberta Health showed there were more opioid related deaths from Jan. 1 to Sept. 30, 2017 than there were during the same time in 2016.
From Jan. 1, 2016 to Sept. 30, 2017, 7,444 naloxone kits were dispensed in Edmonton. Naloxone is an antidote to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. It can prevent an overdose from becoming fatal when it’s given immediately and followed up with emergency medical support.
Take-home naloxone is already available without prescription at 921 sites, mostly community pharmacies. They also include non-pharmacy sites such as post-secondary institutions, jails, community health centres and inner city agencies.
Edmonton firefighters have been trained to administer naloxone since Feb. 2017, according to Fire Chief Ken Block.
He said that naloxone was delivered in 101 cases in 2017 and has been used nine times in January 2018, adding no members have been the recipients of naloxone.
Insp. Shane Perka with Edmonton Police Service said the opioid crisis is evolving quickly and police are working to keep up with it.
“We’re doing our best to address it on all fronts,” he said.
Perka said individual officers do not carry naloxone kits, rather the antidotes are strategically placed around the city.
However, police have not yet administered naloxone once.
“Although we have been carrying it for the better part of a year now, we haven’t had any need to administer it, either to our staff or members of the public,” Perka said.
Block explains the difference may be the result of when various first responders arrive at a scene.
“If there’s a life-threatening medical event that’s called into 911, fire rescue is deployed. In all likelihood, we are going sooner to far more of these calls than EPS would,” he said.
The report to committee also finds that city peace officers and select municipal enforcement officers are at higher risk of exposure to opioids during work.
In mid-October, those two groups were approved to carry naloxone nasal spray.
The report said all 286 employees from this group have been trained and the city is working to give all those workers the appropriate kits.
Naloxone kits have been available in Alberta pharmacies since January 2016. In May 2016, the province made the kits available without a prescription in Alberta. Naloxone is available as both a nasal spray and via injection.
-with files from The Canadian Press, Global News
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