Rick StiebelThe Chronicle
The RCMP is distributing 14,000 naloxone kits across the country to help save the lives of overdose victims and police officers who come in contact with the deadly drug fentanyl.
Ladysmith RCMP Staff Sgt. Ken Brissard, the officer in charge of the detachment, said he expects the life-saving kits will arrive in the near future and officers will be trained on how to administer them.
“Fentanyl has darkened our door here,” Brissard said. “We have dealt with two fentanyl-related overdoses resulting in fatalities since Christmas time of last year. The reality is that opiates are extremely dangerous and we have seen the repercussions all too often.”
Statistics from the B.C. coroner’s office show that fentanyl, a powerful pain killer up to 50 times more potent than heroin, has been linked to 371 overdoses resulting in death in the first six months of 2016. That represents an increase of 74 per cent during the same period in the year before, with 301 of those males.
Men between the ages of 30 and 39 account for the highest percentage of deaths attributed to fentanyl overdoses.
The number of deaths on Vancouver Island in the first five months of this year has already exceeded the total for 2015. The province declared a public health emergency in April.
Chief coroner Lisa Lapointe has stressed the importance of calling 911 immediately if someone appears to be overdosing.
The number of first responders, including police, firefighters and paramedics carrying Naloxone kits is increasing across the province, with lifesaving results.
According to Drugs.com, naloxone blocks or reverses the effects of opioid medication, including loss of consciousness, extreme drowsiness and slowed breathing. It can also be used to help diagnose whether a person has used an overdose of an opioid.