When administered on time, naloxone reverses the effects of opioid overdoses, bringing potential victims back from the brink of death.
This past weekend during a string of fentanyl-laced cocaine overdoses, Saskatoon paramedics administered the antidote to four out of six patients.
“Two were DOAs when we arrived on the scene,” Troy Davies, spokesperson for Medavie Health Services West, said on Monday.
Whether the deceased had access to take home kits is unknown but paramedics want to see it more commonly carried.
“Similar to what you see with our heart safe program with our AEDs, we want them in every building,” Davies said. “The same as an EpiPen, to a narcotic kit, where if you can save someone’s life and give this to them quickly and immediately, it can make a difference.”
In Saskatchewan, take-home naloxone kits have been available to the public since November 2015. Over 470 individuals have picked one up and more than 1,500 people have received the training.
Anyone can purchase a kit and for drug addicts, they’re free.
Dr. Peter Butt, with the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Medicine, recommends seeking treatment as the best step for addicts but cautions fentanyl overdoses aren’t typical of drug addicts, but rather risk takers.
“If it’s a high use area there should be a take home naloxone kit. If there’s a user in that residence, there should be a take home naloxone kit. If parents know that their kids have friends who use, get a take home naloxone kit.”
Neither Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools or the public school division stock schools with the kits. Restaurants Canada has not made the kits industry standard. Civic facilities in Saskatoon don’t have naloxone kits, but they will be available at all city libraries in 2018 once managers and supervisors have been trained.
When it comes to liability Butt said, “when in doubt, give the naloxone. You won’t do harm.”
In 2017, there were seven fentanyl-related accidental deaths in Saskatchewan: five in Saskatoon, one in Regina and one in Indian Head.
In 2015, 21 people died accidentally in relation to fentanyl use.
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