The City of Kingston has taken an important step to deal with the growing opioid overdose epidemic. Naloxone kits are being installed in fourteen public facilities across the city.
The kits are located in AED cabinets in facilities like the Invista Centre Arena.
Kingston fire chief Shawn Armstrong says the statistics of opioid use in the region are alarming. “We’ve had 15 opioid related deaths in 2016 alone in this region and we’ve had many more issues where Naloxone has been administered.”
KFL&A Public Health’s associate medical officer Fareen Karachiwalla says that according to the Office of the Chief Coroner for Ontario, fatalities in the area are climbing. In 2017, opioid deaths from May to July increased by 68 per cent from the same time period a year earlier.
“In our region, there were about 10 deaths in that just three-month time window,” Karachiwalla said.
First responders and city staff are getting training in the use of Naloxone. If a member of the public is called on to use one, instructions are included in the kit and posted right next to it on the wall.
Harm reduction is a short-term, band-aid solution while health officials work on a longer-term response.
Many opioid users have mental health problems or are self-medicating to deal with other issues like abuse.
Karachiwalla said the Ministry of Health recently contributed $1 million to improve services. “That is going to better mental health treatment, improving access for people to those very critical services.”
Health officials say calling 911 is essential, even if Naloxone is used.
It can often take multiple doses of Naloxone to save someone who’s overdosing.