Pubdate: Mon, 06 Feb 2017
Source: Ottawa Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Canoe Limited Partnership
Author: Joanne Laucius
Page: 3


Ontario's paramedics will be sending a message to the province's
paramedic chiefs this week: we need to carry more naloxone in ambulances.

Naloxone blocks the effect of opioids on the brain, reversing the
effects on breathing. It can be used in an emergency to pull a drug
user who has stopped breathing from the brink of death.

Most Ontario ambulances, including those in Ottawa, carry two vials of
naloxone, as well as two respirators to treat patients who have
overdosed, said Darryl Wilton, president of the Professional Paramedic
Association of Ottawa.

In the 20 years he has been a paramedic, that has been enough. But not
anymore, he says. Paramedics want to double that kit to four vials of
naloxone and four respirators - with the flexibility to increase that
number if conditions warrant.

The letter will be sent from the Ontario Paramedic Association to the
Ontario Association of Paramedic Chiefs later this week, said Wilton.

Reports from B.C. say ambulances will often use all 16 naloxone vials
in their stock in the space of a shift, he said. Paramedics in Peel
region recently started to carry six vials in every ambulance, with
advanced care paramedics carrying an additional two vials each.

Wilton doesn't see any reason why the province's paramedic chiefs will
reject the proposal. "It's the next logical step. This should have
been done already."

Naloxone is used as a frontline tool in the battle against opioid
overdoses, a situation that has been called a crisis. According to
figures released in November, there were 529 opioid deaths in Ontario
in 2015, with 162 of those deaths related to the potent synthetic
opioid fentanyl.

There have also been heightened concerns about carfentanil, an even
more powerful opioid used to tranquilize large animals such as
elephants. Carfentanil made its first appearance in Ontario in
December, although there have been no reports of it in the Ottawa area.

On the weekend Ottawa paramedics drew attention to a cluster of
overdoses, including four between 8 and 9 p.m. on Friday night.

Last Monday, four men overdosed, and one of them died, after using an
unknown substance in Gatineau. Police have sent the substance away to
be analyzed.

A spokesman for Ottawa Public Health said it is working with its
partners to get details about what caused the Friday night overdoses.
It might take weeks to get that answer.

Last May, Ontario announced it would dispense free naloxone through
community pharmacies. As of late January, Vanier's Respect Rx
Pharmasave had dispensed almost 600 naloxone kits.
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