Pubdate: Wed, 13 Apr 2016
Source: Langley Times (CN BC)
Copyright: 2016 Langley Times
Author: Dan Ferguson


Under current rules, firefighters have to wait for a doctor's
permission to administer naloxone

Langley City firefighters won't carry the anti-overdose drug naloxone,
even though the department is seeing an increase in related medical

City Fire Chief Rory Thompson told the April 4 meeting of City council
that if the current numbers hold, Langley Fire Rescue will have
handled 240 to 260 overdose cases this year, compared to 80 last year.

Much of that, Chief Thompson said, is because of fentanyl, an
extremely powerful synthetic painkiller that is up to 100 times more
potent than morphine.

"We've had a bit of a shift," Thompson said.

Despite the hike in overdose cases, Thompson said a review by the
department found there would be no advantage to having firefighters
carry naloxone.

Under the current rules, he said, firefighters have to phone a doctor
to get permission to administer the anti-overdose drug, while
ambulance paramedics can make the decision at the scene.

"Usually the ambulance is already there (before Langley Fire Rescue
could get permission)," Thompson said.

In January, the review showed paramedics arrived within three minutes
of the fire department at 32 medical calls in Langley City.

The Surrey fire department, which does carry naloxone, has only used
the drug twice over three months and several hundred responses,
Thompson added.

He said the Langley department will continue to monitor the situation,
but "at this time, we don't think that's the right step (carrying
naloxone) for us to take."

Langley Township fire department has also decided against carrying the
anti-overdose drug.

Earlier this year, firefighters in Surrey and Vancouver became the
first to carry the kits as a pilot project.

Illicit drug overdose deaths in B.C. jumped 27 per cent in 2015 and
nearly 50 per cent in the Fraser Region, according to the B.C.
Coroner's Service.

An estimated 30 per cent of overdose deaths involved fentanyl - either
the potent opiate by itself or mixed with other drugs - and that
proportion has steadily climbed over the past three years.

The B.C. Ministry of Health estimates that 370 opioid drug overdoses
have been reversed by naloxone.

- - with files from Monique Tamminga
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MAP posted-by: Matt