A swift response from a woman already dedicated to making Regina safer may have saved a life Monday night.
“I just grabbed my jacket, grabbed two Narcan nasal kits, grabbed my keys and ran,” said Queen City Patrol (QCP) founder Patty Will, who was called when a QCP volunteer witnessed an apparent overdose victim at around 10:30 pm Monday.
Narcan is a common brand name for the medication naloxone, which counters the effects of opioid overdose and can restore stopped breathing.
“She said ‘Patty get over here!'” Will recalled. “‘There’s a lady overdosing. I need you now.'”
Will, known for her efforts picking up used intravenous needles from around Regina, arrived at the Tim Horton’s at Albert Street and Fourth Ave to find a woman slumped against a wall.
“When I got there, I said, ‘Did anyone call 911? No? Call them and say I need them here immediately,'” Will explained. “I just popped a box open, opened up a nasal kit, gave it to her and then started CPR.”
Will said another bystander began mouth-to-mouth, and after what seemed like an eternity, the woman began to breathe.
“She was completely out. It took me probably two or three minutes to get her breathing again with the CPR. I kept going and kept going. I didn’t think she was going to make it because she had been sitting down for a while.”
At that point, paramedics arrived and provided further aid to the victim before taking her to hospital.
“I was so excited to know that it worked and that I remembered what to do. We did it. We saved here life. And then it took me probably two hours to calm down again and go back to bed.”
According to the Saskatchewan Coroners Service, there were 172 confirmed and 205 suspected overdose deaths in the province in 2020. 82 of those were in Regina.
Through January of this year, they’ve reported 36 suspected deaths related to drug toxicity.
“I think in 2020 on average we had almost five overdose calls a day,” Bray said, adding that Regina Police Service (RPS) administered naloxone 62 times in 2020, 57 of those times successfully. “We saved dozens of lives last year because our officers were able to administer naloxone when they arrived on scene.”
All front-line RPS members now carry naloxone kits with them while on duty.
Bray said that while he believes it is part of the role of police to keep dangerous drugs like fentanyl off the streets, he thinks defeating the addictions crisis will require attention from multiple community levels.
“Enforcement on trafficking, and importation of drugs into our community is an important part of the work that we do,” he said. “We have to find a way to help our community partners and government partners step in and work collaboratively with us.”
Bray mentioned the “continuum of care” as an important part of efforts to end addictions.
“Once police have that interaction with an individual, there can be no gap in service delivery and support provided to the person so they can make some meaningful changes in their life. And it’s not about stopping somebody from their addiction without understanding what caused them to be addicted in the first place. It’s a big piece of work.”
In the meantime, Will hopes that as many people as possible can be trained to use Narcan.
“If you’re a hundred years old, you can use it. The short time it takes to train – maybe a maximum of 15 minutes – can save a life.”
The government of Saskatchewan offers an online service that helps users locate take-home naloxone kits.
Patty Will said if people have a hard time finding one they can contact her to help find a kit for themselves.
“Get one even if you live in the middle of nowhere and you just come into the city once in a while,” she said, “because you just never know.”