Pubdate: Fri, 07 Jul 2017
Source: Winnipeg Free Press (CN MB)
Copyright: 2017 Winnipeg Free Press
Author: Carol Sanders
Page: B1


FOR the first time, naloxone kits will be available at the Winnipeg
Folk Festival.

Festival spokeswoman Kelly Romas said Thursday any of the event's 60
first-aid volunteers can administer the medication that reverses the
effect of an opioid overdose, which can slow down or stop a person's

More than 100 Manitobans die from overdose every year and opioids are
most often involved, says Street Connections, the Winnipeg-based
health agency that supports harm-reduction and provides health care to
people on the street.

So far, it hasn't been a problem at the family-friendly festival at
Birds Hill Provincial Park, organizers say.

"We've never had any opioid overdoses," festival protection and
wellness co-ordinator Paul Laporte, who was a full-time paramedic for
17 years, said. "The problems here, like the majority of problems in
society, are linked to alcohol."

In the last year, Winnipeg politicians, police and emergency
responders have described the opioid situation as a crisis and an
"epidemic." The danger of opioid overdose has been ramped up with the
arrival of fentanyl and carfentanil - powerful and potentially deadly
painkillers that are often mixed with street drugs, though users may
be unaware of their presence in substances they're using.

Folk fest organizers want to be prepared with naloxone in case such an
incident occurs at Birds Hill. The 2017 edition of the festival began
Thursday and runs through Sunday night.

"It's like having a fire extinguisher in your house," Laporte said.
"You don't want your house to catch fire, but you want to be prepared
if it does."

Naloxone blocks the effects of opioids, assisting emergency responders
in their efforts to help an overdose victim breathe. "It's the airway
treatment and airway protection and ventilation that keeps them
alive," Laporte said.

The festival purchased 12 naloxone kits to add to the first-aid
volunteers' list of equipment. Some are $160 nasal kits; others are
$120 injection kits.

Laporte expects the heat will be the biggest health concern this
weekend. Environment Canada forecasts sunshine for Friday, with a high
UV index, a high of 28 C and a humidex of 30.

"Everybody gets out there and they're having a great time and they
forget to drink water and wear a hat," Laporte said. "Generally, on
the first day, we see heat exhaustion and sunburns."

Throughout the campground and festival site just east of Winnipeg,
there are shaded areas and cooling stations "that look like
multi-headed showers" where people can chill out in a refreshing mist,
he said.

Romas also reminded festival-goers to take care of

"Everyone needs to stay hydrated, wear a hat and sunscreen, eat well
and have the best weekend of their lives," she said.
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