Pubdate: Fri, 14 Jul 2017
Source: Fort McMurray Today (CN AB)
Copyright: 2017 Fort McMurray Today
Author: Vincent McDermott
Page: A3


Police are crediting a quick-thinking officer with a Naloxone kit for
saving a man's life in Janvier earlier this week.

According to Wood Buffalo RCMP, an officer was making a routine patrol
through the hamlet, located approximately 120 kilometres south of Fort
McMurray, on July 12 when the officer was flagged down.

An individual asked the officer to help a 25-year-old resident who was
unconscious. The officer found the unconscious person was barely
breathing, turning blue and had a faint pulse, forcing the officer to
administer two doses of an anti-opiate drug called Naloxone.

The individual awoke within minutes and was able to interact with the
people assisting with the situation. As a precaution, the individual
was brought to a hospital by ambulance, which had already been called
prior to the officer being flagged down.

Police believe the individual had taken oxycodone, although this is
still being confirmed by medical staff.

According to spokesperson Cpl. Erika Laird, all officers in the Wood
Buffalo area are equipped with Naloxone kits. While urban officers
have the luxury of faster ambulance response times, Laird said the
kits are invaluable for officers patrolling rural hamlets.

"We've had them for awhile. It's been since the larger presence of
opiates became known that they've been issued," she said.

Like most synthetic opiates designed to act as painkillers, oxycodone
latches to the body's opioid receptors in the brain.

Many receptors activate the brain's reward system, handling the
pleasurable feelings associated with acts such as sex or eating,
triggering a flood of euphoria to crash throughout the body. Others
numb the body from physical sensations and pain.

But when activated, some receptors tell the brain's neurons to slow
parts of the body. Drowsiness, confusion and nausea are common. Slowed
breathing is also common.

Take too much and the neurons slow the body's breathing to dangerously
low levels. The body then falls unconscious and eventually stops
breathing, followed quickly by death.

Naloxone stops it from going that far. When a victim overdoses,
Naloxone is injected into the bloodstream and blocks the receptors.
Within minutes, the victim awakes and begins breathing again.

However, Naloxone only works against opiates. If other drugs, such as
alcohol or certain brands of sleeping pills, are also present in the
body of an opiate overdose victim, Naloxone is powerless against them.

According to Alberta's Chief Medical Examiner, nine people died from
fentanyl overdoses in 2016, a drop from 17 victims in 2015. Across the
province, fentanyl was responsible for the deaths of 343 people last

Laird could not immediately confirm how many times police officers
have administered the kits since they were issued, but said the number
was low.

"Generally most of these emergencies happen where an ambulance can get
there quickly, but in more isolated areas, they're very important,"
she said.

There are 11 locations in Fort McMurray that offer Naloxone kits free
of charge to the public and no identification is needed to obtain one.
For a full list of these retailers and their contact information,
visit and type Naloxone kits into the search bar.

Anyone with information about the sale or distribution of drugs within
Wood Buffalo is asked to contact police at 780-788-4000. Tips can be
sent anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or online
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