The actions of an Edmonton teenager may have saved a man’s life.
On Tuesday evening, Emily Devlin and her friends were downtown, outside the George Spady Centre, handing out food to the homeless when she noticed a man stick a needle in his arm.
The 16-year-old kept her distance but said soon after he used the suspected drug he started moaning — Devlin thinks he overdosed.
Feeling uneasy, the teens left, but Devlin said something nagged at her to go back.
“I’ve got to make sure he’s OK,” Devlin said.
“I don’t want to just leave someone there. I don’t want him to die.”
On the drive back, the teens called 911.
“I pulled into the parking lot so fast,” Devlin said, “almost like I was the one driving the ambulance.”
Devlin said no one was helping the man. When she lifted the blankets off of him, his hands were blue. She checked his pulse — he wasn’t breathing.
“That was quite terrifying.”
Devlin said she started chest compressions and tried to wake the man. Finally, she said she heard him moan and he appeared to vomit white foam.
Devlin said she then saw someone was being let in the George Spady building. She ran up and asked if there was a naloxone kit inside.
The George Spady Centre is one of four supervised consumption sites approved in Edmonton.
Lorette Garrick, executive director of George Spady Society, told Global News that since April there have been numerous overdoses outside the building — but no one has died.
Garrick said staff often check outside the building and have been alerted of potential opioid overdoses by people banging on the door.
Devlin said the ambulance arrived not long after a staff member administered naloxone to the man.
“I did go home and I cried for hours afterwards,” Devlin said. “I was extremely upset about it.”
Alex Campbell, a public education officer with Alberta Health Services EMS, said last year 733 Albertan’s died from an opioid overdose.
“Having trouble breathing, that’s really the number one sign,” said Campbell. “They might be turning blue, they might be making gurgling respirations and they’ll be hard to wake up.”
On average, that’s two people per day.
READ MORE: Opioid overdoses kill 2 Albertans every day
Despite the overwhelming experience, Devlin believes everyone – especially students – should learn to spot the signs of an opioid overdose.
“We get told, ‘Don’t do drugs.’ We don’t get told if you do drugs and this happens — get help.”
Devlin doesn’t know the condition of the man or if he’s still in the hospital, but believes she helped saved his life.
“I would have done it again in a heartbeat.”