by Morinville News Staff
Almost 2,000 deaths in Alberta have been attributed to apparent opioid-related overdoses from January 2016 to December 2018.
Alberta RCMP said Tuesday that in some cases where they were dispatched lives could have been saved by bystanders, friends or family members called emergency services. Sadly, calls were not made out of concerns for potential legal repercussions.
RCMP and Health Canada are reminding residents of the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act, which provides some legal protections for people who experience or witness an overdose and call 911 or their local emergency number for help.
The Act is meant to encourage people to seek emergency help during an overdose by helping to reduce fear of seeking police or medical assistance. It applies to anyone seeking emergency assistance during an overdose, including the person experiencing an overdose. The Act protects the person who seeks help, whether they stay or leave from the overdose scene, as well as anyone else who is at the scene when help arrives.
The Act can protect you from:
· Charges for possession of a controlled substance (i.e. drugs) under section 4(1) of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
· Consequences of breach of conditions regarding simple possession of controlled substances (i.e. drugs) in: pre-trial release, probation orders, conditional sentences and parole.
However, police point out the Act does not provide any legal protections for more series offences, including production and trafficking of controlled substances.
Police say witnesses should call for emergency help and render whatever assistance they can, including administering naloxone. Naloxone is a fast-acting drug that temporarily reverses the effects of opioid overdoses. Naloxone kits are available at no cost in pharmacies in Alberta.
For more information visit Canada.ca/Opioids.