Around 200 people packed the Selwyn Outreach Centre near Peterborough for a discussion about the ongoing opioid crisis in Ontario.
In 2017, 20 people overdosed from opioids in Peterborough.
It’s something that hits close to home for many, including retired police officer Jim Carson. He lost his grandson Keagen, 21, to an overdose.
“He came home and wanted to get better. He went 72 days drug-free. He relapsed and died from a fentanyl overdose in 2017,” said Carson.
Carson was one of three speakers at the event which included presentations by Peterborough Medical Officer of Health Dr. Rosana Salvaterra and Dan Farrow of Peterborough Paramedics.
Farrow told the crowd that calls for overdoses have risen dramatically in recent years. He also pointed to the dangers involved with responding to an overdose call.
“If someone’s dead or dying and we’re trying to resuscitate them and family is stressed, it’s high stress for paramedics. We deal with less than desirable areas — stairs and rooming houses,” said Farrow. “Everything about the call becomes stressful and dangerous.”
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Carson was a sergeant with Lakefield police and Peterborough Lakefield police. He was an officer for 32 years, and retired in 2006. Carson told the crowd that police are now dealing with much more potent drugs than when he was an officer.
“Certainly not this extent. In 2006, we were dealing with cocaine and soft drugs. The amount of heroin and harder drugs that are here now, weren’t around as much in 2006,” added Carson.