Province expands naloxone program

by Morinville News Staff

Alberta’s firefighters now have greater access to lifesaving naloxone kits now that all first responders can administer naloxone by injection.

The province said Tuesday fentanyl and other opioids continue to take a deadly toll in Alberta communities. There were 343 deaths in 2016 due to apparent fentanyl-related drug overdoses, a 33 per cent increase from the 257 deaths listed in 2015.

Naloxone can save a life when given immediately and followed up with emergency medical support. The government is making injectable naloxone kits and training available to first responders at no cost; however, both police and fire departments remain free to make operational decisions about carrying and administering naloxone.

Naloxone is being made an unscheduled drug, allowing anyone to get a kit without a prescription. This will make it easier for community agencies to provide naloxone kits.

“Our first responders are heroes for their work saving lives on the front lines,” Brandy Payne, Associate Minister of Health. “Now firefighters across the province can administer injectable naloxone, giving them an additional life-saving tool when responding to an overdose call. Making naloxone more widely accessible to individuals and organizations who want the kits will also help prevent further deaths.”

Craig Macdonald of the Alberta Fire Fighters Association applauded the government allowing frontline first responders to administer naloxone.

“The ability of firefighters to administer naloxone is a very important tool in the management of the opioid crisis,” Macdonald said. “Firefighters across Alberta will now be of greater assistance to our partners in EMS by delivering timely and effective treatment to those experiencing a potentially deadly opioid overdose.”

Town of Morinville Fire Chief Brad Boddez said the Naloxone kit announcement was good news and that the department will look into best practices.

“Morinville Fire Department will work with local AHS agencies; however, as this is a new resource, we will investigate the need for the kits locally and see what our AHS partners require and recommend,” Chief Boddez said. “I will also monitor what Edmonton Fire Rescue Services and St. Albert Fire Services are planning.”

More funding

The government announced more efforts to combat opioids.

An opioid dependency treatment (ODT) clinic capable of serving 300 patients is set to open in Grande Prairie in the spring, and an additional 300 patients currently in AHS ODT clinics are ready to transition to primary health-care providers, opening up spaces for new patients.

Additionally, $730,000 in grant funding is being provided to support agencies in several communities, including Edmonton and Calgary, working to establish supervised consumption services.

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