First Responders Receiving Life Saving Naloxone Training in PG
Prince George, B.C. – Naloxone has been identified as a life saving medication for those suffering from an opioid overdose, and all firefighters and RCMP members in Prince George will soon be trained in how to administer it.
Earlier this month, regulations under the Health Professions Act and Emergency Act were amended to enable all healthcare professionals, first responders, social workers and citizens to administer naloxone outside of a hospital setting.
Prince George Fire Rescue Services was given approval by Prince George City Council at a meeting in August, to enter an agreement with the BC Emergency Health Services to administer naloxone .
Fire Chief John Iverson says it’s about a two hour course and the costs can be covered within the existing budget.
“Several of our members have undergone the trainer training so that they can in turn instruct or teach our staff on the administration of naloxone,” he says. “They will be administrating it in the coming weeks. It’s not on our trucks yet but we’re very close to getting this underway.”
And because firefighters are commonly the first on scene to respond to overdoses, he says it will be a crucial tool in helping save lives: “It’s incredibly important and it’s a real life saving medication for people that need it.”
Superintendent Warren Brown of the Prince George RCMP says training has already begun for his staff.
“Over the last six months or so we have trained some of our members and that’s with a syringe type injection for naloxone and the reason we have that is because we also come into contact with fentanyl,” he says.
“Not only during search warrants but also with some of the vulnerable people we deal with and our concern is that it’s such a deadly drug that our members could succumb as many victims have in our community.”
For that reason, Supt. Brown says the RCMP has looked at a national strategy to ensure the safety of its members.
“So we are getting a nasal form of naloxone and there’s a training component to it as well and I would anticipate likely by the end of this year each of our members will have that along with our guards and custodians.”
He says since October 2015, there have been over 100 fentanyl related overdoses in Prince George.
“And perhaps a dozen or so deaths. I might be off by one or two but it is prevalent. We see occasional spikes in the number of overdoses. It’s sporadic but I would say it’s alive here in Prince George.”
According to the BC Coroners Service, there were 555 apparent drug overdose deaths in B.C. from January 1 to September 30 this year.
This is a 61% increase over the number of deaths over the same time last year.