The drug Naloxone has been mush more widely available in recent months as a way to combat the increase in dug overdose deaths we been seeing in B.C.
It’s not just BC that’s dealing with this, there are big problems in Alberta and Ontario but BC is the first province to declare it a public health emergency.
So as the numbers of drug overdoses continue to climb in this province, we do have some new numbers on the use of Naloxone, which can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose within minutes.
It’s been made more available by allowing health service workers to get it without a prescription, and by training more people to use it, including parademics.
In 2015, paramedics in Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health authorities administered Naloxone 2,030 times, according to BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) statistics.
That was a 44% increase from the previous year. And between 2011 and 2014, the drug was given between 1,200 and 1,400 times. Not only that, in the first three months of 2016 alone, paramedics administered Naloxone more than 800 times.
LISTEN to the full interview with Linda Lupini:
Hundreds more First Responders now trained to use Naloxone
Linda Lupini, Executive President of BC Emergency Health Services and the Provincial Health Services Authority, says the numbers are frightening.
Since Minister of Health put through an order, Fire First Responders and EMR Parademics have been able to be trained to administer the Naloxone.
“It’s definitely resulting in more lives saved because time is very critical in these situations, so the sooner you can administer Noloxone, the better for the patient. And Fire First Responders, at least in the Lower Mainland, arrive at the scene prior to BC Ambulance arriving.”
Lupini says in more remote rural areas first level paramedics are also now able to administer the drug.
“This is a daily use for us, multiple calls. We’re just finding that we’re lucky to have n, it’;s a good drug, it reverses the overdose, but essentially wer’re just keeping alive.”
She says it’s shining a light on the widespread addiction issue.
“We need to get some experts together, work across health authorities and with the Centre for Disease Control to try to look at what to do about this issue.”
More interventions are needed
Now that the Public Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendall has declared it a public health emergency, Lupini says she’s optimistic that a new group that’s been formed will come up with some good strategies and interventions.
“The attention that’s been focused has allowed some of the best minds and experts in the province to start working on solutions earlier in the chain of events,”