The provincial government is covering the cost of equipping firefighting vehicles with two doses of naloxone to help deal with the growing opioid epidemic.
Fire Chief Jim Donovan’s report to township council at the Feb. 12 meeting recommended they don’t take the province up on its offer to equip fire vehicles with Naloxone, a drug used to help reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.
Donovan says the township has 60 volunteer firefighters and it’s already difficult to recruit.
He believes adding more responsibilities and increasing the training schedule will make that even more challenging.
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“We basically have our training schedule right to the year’s end so to try to bring that in, we’re going to have to cut short in some other area.”
Donovan thinks the responsibility of administering drugs is best left in the hands of paramedics — and is also concerned about long-term funding.
“If the ministry withdraws the funding, it’s pretty hard to go back and discontinue a service, so again, there would be an associated cost the municipality would have to pick up.”
There are concerns over liability and insurance. Unknown costs are Mayor Jim Pickard’s main concern.
“All the issues around legal insurance, costs, all of those play into it. There’s no doubt it’s going to cost more money.”
He says he also wants to hear from volunteer firefighters themselves to get a better understanding from the rank and file about their feelings on the issue.
The mayor says “no” to naloxone now, doesn’t necessarily mean no forever, and as they get more answers to the questions they have, he says the township is willing to revisit the issue.
“Certainly, we’ll take a look at it again and see the impact it would have in our community.”
Pickard says it could be as long as a year before they get the answers they are looking for.