March 20, 2018 1:21 am

‘We will wait and see’ says Vancouver Mayor on policy banning librarians from giving naloxone

A paramedic displays a bottle of naloxone, the overdose-reversing drug administered daily to patients.

Simon Little/ CKNW

Vancouver’s mayor is staying non-committal about the prospect of city library staff using naloxone to reverse overdoses.

The drug has been responsible for saving countless lives amid B.C.’s opioid overdose crisis, however some city staff have been told they are not to administer it.

READ MORE: B.C. averaged 4 fatal overdoses a day in January

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Librarians have been told instead to call 911 if they find someone they suspect is overdosing — but according to the city, that’s over safety concerns.

On Monday, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said the “next steps in terms of staff training and policy around naloxone” required further study.

“We will wait and see the outcome of that review,” he said.

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

Vancouver police and firefighters were some of the first in North America to be equipped with the drug, and Robertson pointed to their specialized training.

“With the rest of city staff, it’s still a process of training and determining exactly… the incidents of overdose are far fewer for those, the rest of city staff,” he said.

READ MORE: B.C. marks 2017 as deadliest O.D. death year in provincial history

“We have quite a few front-line workers on the streets and first responders that obviously are trained for this.”

More than 1,400 people died of suspected drug overdoses in B.C. last year. In January this year, overdoses killed British Columbians at a rate of about four per day.

Vancouver saw the largest proportion of those fatal overdoses, with 33 recorded in the first month of the year.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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