St. John Ambulance expands opioid overdose training program

St. John Ambulance is working to make naloxone kits more accessible to Canadians and better educate people on overdoses. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Matt Rourke

As the opioid crisis continues to plague Canada, including Manitoba, St. John Ambulance is working to get more people trained on how to deal with overdoses.

Over $5 million from Health Canada will see the organization train both groups and people on how to respond and provide help when it comes to overdoses.

Some programs more dedicated to homeless shelters and trade industries have been around for a few years now.

Read more: ‘I can make a difference’: Alberta grocery chain staff train to save overdose victims

The program manager said it’s all about helping as many people as possible.

“It’s not just a localized, one community group problem. It can be anyone, anywhere,” Kevin McGowan said.

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McGowan said the problem is continuing to get worse.

“It’s a staggering and upsetting number, to be honest with you, when it comes to opioid poisonings. They continue to go up year-over-year,” he said.

The latest statistics from Health Canada show over 3,500 people died from overdoses during the first half of 2021. It matches the total number of overdoses for all of 2018.

Read more: Loved ones remember overdose deaths on ‘Black Balloon Day’

In 2020, 374 people died from drug-related deaths in Manitoba.

St. John Ambulance has handed out over 10,000 naloxone kits nationally and have trained over 40 organizations in Manitoba, including 23 in Winnipeg.

“We’re really aiming to bring a localized approach to this,” McGowan said.

The program is also working to make this accessible as possible.

“We want to break the barriers for people who may not be able to get their hands on naloxone kits easily.”

McGowan is hoping more training can help end stigmas around opioid overdoses.

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“This could be your brother, sister, spouse or child — someone you really want to help. It can become so important to learn how to use a naloxone kit,” McGowan said.

More about the programming offered can be found on the website,

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Addictions contributing to homelessness

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