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Awasiw night staff administer naloxone, save man from drug overdose

Peterborough Public Health issued a new drug alert on June 1 following a surge in emergency department visits for suspected drug poisonings. The Canadian Press file

Two night staff at Awasiw – A Place of Hope located in Regina’s North Central neighbourhood saved a man from a drug overdose by administering Narcan, also known as naloxone.

Melanie Kingston, who oversees Awasiw, says the drug overdose took place in the early hours on Tuesday, June 8. Two staff members were on duty when one of the workers noticed a man was in the washroom longer than usual. When both staff members unlocked the door after knocking, they found the man unresponsive.

“They administered the Narcan first … and when that didn’t work after a certain period of time, they administered the naloxone kit,” says Kingston who is also the community health director at All Nations Hope Network. “The gentleman became aware of his surroundings. The ambulance showed up and took care of him from there.”

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Awasiw provides outreach services to people in need of warm shelter, food, water, smudging, phone services and bathroom use from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. daily. Located in North Central, Awasiw sees an average of 250 people a night.

Kingston says the two night staff were pretty shaken up from the incident. Immediately, they smudged and prayed giving thanks to the man whose life they saved.

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“The staff has been trained from the beginning on what to expect, what to do, and how to handle the situation,” she says. “We had anticipated it happening just because of the hours we keep.”

Click to play video: 'First overdose prevention site in Regina officially opens'
First overdose prevention site in Regina officially opens

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first drug overdose they’ve seen in their building — it was the third since January of this year.

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Kingston says due to their location, they have to be ready and prepared for situations like this. She says having training on administering Narcan and having naloxone kits handy is very important these days.

“It’s very important (to have proper training) because of the people we deal with on a day-to-day basis,” she says. “I think it’s very important for anybody having that training … just because of the high overdoses we’re seeing in the city.”

According to a report from the Saskatchewan Coroners Service, there have been 29 confirmed drug toxicity deaths in Regina this year since January.

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