Pubdate: Sat, 06 Feb 2016
Source: Simcoe Reformer, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2016 Sun Media
Author: Monte Sonnenberg
Page: 3


The number of people who die each year from drug overdoses should
decline now that all paramedics in Ontario have a new tool in their
kit bag.

That tool is the drug naloxone, which is sold under the brand name

Naloxone is a synthetic drug similar to morphine. When administered in
a hypodermic needle or by nasal spray, it blocks opiate receptors in
the nervous system. If administered in a timely manner, it restores
breathing in overdose patients who are in danger of cardiac arrest.

Paramedics in large urban centres such as the Greater Toronto Area and
Niagara Region have carried Naloxone for the past 20 years.

Paramedics elsewhere have had to rely on cardio-pulmonary
resuscitation and manual breathing apparatus until they get patients
to hospitals that administer naloxone. Norfolk's 85 full- and
part-time paramedics began carrying naloxone in the field on Monday.

Sarah Townsend, acting deputy chief of Norfolk's paramedic services,
said naloxone works on overdoses involving morphine, codeine, heroin,
oxycodone, methadone and other opiate variations.

The antidote can be a double-edged sword. Sometimes, drug abusers
aren't pleased to wake up to find uniformed strangers hovering over

"They do wake up quite rapidly, which can produce situations that are
quite dangerous for paramedics," Townsend said. "We're taking away
their high. There is the potential for violence or severe vomiting.
But it is a great tool to have."

Norfolk paramedics don't expect to make daily use of naloxone.
Opiate-related overdoses in Norfolk, Townsend says, aren't as common
as they are elsewhere, although they do happen on occasion.
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