Pubdate: Tue, 02 Nov 2004
Source: Melfort Journal, The (CN SN)
Copyright: 2004, The Melfort Journal
Author: Greg Wiseman
Bookmark: (Youth)


Trouble can lurk around any corner or even in the grass near a playground 
as Maggie Puttick, a parent noon hour supervisor at Maude Burke School, 
found out on Oct. 25 when she found a used hypodermic needle while walking 
past Burke Kinsmen Park on her way to school.

"I happened to be walking on the grass because my boots were rubbing on the 
(sidewalk) cement. I looked down and there it was. It was bent in half and 
the needle part was broken off," Puttick recalled.

With her leather gloves on and thoughts of "I wouldn't want my kid picking 
that up," she picked up the syringe and took it to the school where she and 
principal Randy Steciuk wrapped it in cardboard and disposed of it.

"I was really nervous carrying the thing though. What if the bell rang and 
a kid came rushing out and I am holding a needle. What are the chances 
there is infected blood in it, pretty small but still a chance," she said.

Steciuk wasted no time informing the students and parents of the discovery 
as well as the RCMP.

"I went out on Wednesday twice looking in the area because there were two 
reports (from students). Fortunately they were false alarms, but I would 
rather check on 1,000 false alarms than have a student come across one and 
keep quiet," Steciuk said.

With the discovery of the syringe Steciuk said there may be a little more 
focus on the HIV/AIDS section of the health unit taught in the school. A 
portion of that section deals with how the disease is contracted and passed.

However, that section of the curriculum is not scheduled and can be taught 
at anytime.

Steciuk said with the syringe being found, that curriculum may be taught a 
little earlier.

"We also may be doing some drug awareness with the students because if that 
needle was from a drug user there is the possibility that there are drugs 
in the area that can be passed to the kids," he said.

But there is no proof that the syringe belonged to an illegal drug user as 
it could have been used for insulin injections for a diabetic.

Mark VanSchie, Staff Sgt. with the Melfort RCMP, said there has not been a 
lot of needles found in the recent past and they haven't seen a lot of 
needle drug use in the area.

"However, we are always interested in trends of drug use too, so if this is 
more frequent it will require greater attention from us," he said.

If a needle is found it should be disposed of in a safe manner, which means 
wearing adequate personal protection like gloves.

A found needle should also be disposed in a sharps container, not just 
wrapped up and thrown in the garbage.

"That would put the people who handle the garbage at risk so that shouldn't 
be done," he said.

"A number of different agencies have sharps disposals. We have one the 
ambulance service has one and the hospitals and clinics all have them."

If the person who finds a needle doesn't have the means to dispose of it, a 
phone call to the RCMP office will bring an officer who will look after it.
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