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Vancouver lifeguards can administer Naloxone – if they’re trained to do it

Lifeguards stand next to a rescue boat as they look over English Bay beach in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Don Denton/CP

As the overdose crisis continues in Vancouver, further questions are being raised about city staff being able to administer Naloxone during an emergency.

A tweet from Overdose Prevention Society founder Sarah Blyth claimed that lifeguards aren’t allowed to administer the overdose-reversing drug.

But recreation director Donnie Rosa said that’s not the case.

“Anybody, any city staff, can administer Naloxone or any life-saving measure,” said Rosa.

That is, as long as they’re trained.

READ MORE: Vancouver Public Library reverses staff policy on responding to overdoses

However, it’s not mandatory that people be trained to administer naloxone. Rosa said the decision to obtain training is a personal one.

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“There’s no expectation that any employee puts their own safety at risk,” Rosa said.

She wouldn’t speculate on whether the training would eventually be required.

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

Last week, the Vancouver Public Library changed a policy that said staff were not allowed to respond to overdoses inside their buildings.

The issue was brought to light after many questioned why staff weren’t allowed to intervene.

The library said all trained staff will now be allowed to administer Naloxone.

WATCH: Grim confirmation of BC’s deadly overdose crisis

Click to play video: 'Grim confirmation of BC’s deadly overdose crisis' Grim confirmation of BC’s deadly overdose crisis
Grim confirmation of BC’s deadly overdose crisis – Jan 31, 2018

But Blyth says she agrees training should be a personal choice but says cities should still offer training for their staff.

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She said any concerned staff should also be able to speak to someone about their concerns, noting that could help remove part of the stigma.

“They should definitely dispel some of the myths, I can tell you that it’s not a scary thing to save a life. It’s actually easy,” Blyth said.

More than 1,400 people died of suspected drug overdoses in B.C. last year.

Vancouver saw 33 overdose fatalities in January 2018 alone, marking the most of any B.C. city.

  • With files from Emily Lazatin

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