B.C.’s overdose epidemic is not a Downtown Eastside problem.
During the first 10 months of this year, there were 300 illicit-drug overdose deaths in the city of Vancouver. Meanwhile, there were 405 fatal overdoses in the area covered by the Fraser Health Authority, which includes Burnaby, New Westminster, Surrey, Langley, and Abbotsford.
Families of every sort have lost loved ones. With B.C. projected to see more than 1,400 deaths this year, everyone should know what to do in the event of an overdose.
B.C.’s Toward the Heart program has made a quick and easy course in overdose response available for roughly two years now. It’s free and only takes one hour. But only available at certain locations and at specific hours. And so it’s the kind of thing that can go on a to-do list become tough to get around to.
Well now there’s no longer any excuse to put it off. Yesterday (December 18), the province unveiled an online version of the course.
At naloxonetraining.com, you can learn how to spot the signs of an opioid overdose and learn how to respond if someone loses consciousness or otherwise looks like they’re in trouble.
The interactive lessons cover the initial steps you should take when someone overdoses. It moves on to mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Then there’s an introduction to naloxone (brand name Narcan), the so-called overdose antidote that reverses the effects of opioids.
A video shows how to load a syringe with naloxone, inject someone with it, and then how to monitor the individual and judge whether they require a second dose of the medication. It emphasizes naloxone has no significant side effects.
At the end of the online course, you receive a certificate of completion.
Then you can take that to one of more than 600 locations across B.C. where naloxone is distributed free of charge. Show a pharmacist or health-care worker your certificate and they’ll give you a naloxone kit.
The kits are small enough to carry in a purse. They’re also discreet, resembling a sunglasses case.
“Now anyone can learn how to administer naloxone or give themselves a refresher course, at their own convenience,” reads a Providence Health Care media release.
Dr. Andrew Kestler explains how the online program was developed.
“When we started handing out naloxone kits in the St. Paul’s Hospital emergency department, we realized it was challenging to deliver consistent, high-quality training in a busy environment,” she explains in the release. “We wanted training that could be accessed from an iPad in the hospital so it was easy for healthcare workers to deliver, even without a lot of previous experience with the kits. The other goal was to develop training that would be accessible at home for people who use opioids and their families.”
The term “opioids” describes a family of drugs that includes heroin, fentanyl morphine, and OxyContin.
A December 19 government release notes that the holiday season is a hard time for many people, when mental-health issues are exacerbated and people are more likely to use drugs.
The course in overdose response is at naloxonetraining.com.
Additional information about opioids, fentanyl, naloxone, and what to do in the event of an overdose is available at Toward the Heart’s website.