Pubdate: Wed, 06 Sep 2017
Source: Montreal Gazette (CN QU)
Copyright: 2017 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Jesse Feith
Page: A3


Situation not yet an emergency, Coderre says

After meeting with police and public health officials, Montreal Mayor
Denis Coderre said Tuesday the city is actively preparing to handle a
coming opioid crisis.

"I was reassured about the status of the situation right now, but
clearly it's an anticipated crisis that we have to address and face,"
Coderre said during a news conference at city hall.

The mayor's remarks came days after Montreal's public health
department confirmed 12 overdose deaths in the city during the month
of August. Another 24 people were saved by the use of naloxone, a
medication that can be used to prevent fatal opioid overdoses.

Coderre and Dr. Richard Masse, director of public health for Montreal,
said the 12 overdoses in August were "probably" related to fentanyl,
an opioid considered 40 times more potent than heroin and linked to
the opioid crisis that led to more than 900 fatal overdoses in British
Columbia last year.

A project launched by the department in August also identified
fentanyl in urine samples provided by drug users across Montreal. In
most cases, the people were unaware they had consumed the drug. In
every case, the person had reported having consumed heroin. In some
cases, they had consumed cocaine.


Calling the situation a public safety and health concern, but noting
it hasn't reached the level of a public health emergency yet, Coderre
said the city is considering launching a pilot project that would see
its police officers and firefighters equipped with naloxone kits in
certain areas. He named the Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve and
Ville-Marie boroughs as examples.

At the moment, Coderre said, Urgences-Sante paramedics, community
workers and staff at safe-injection sites have received training in
using naloxone to prevent fatal overdoses. Citizens can also receive
the training from community organizations and access the kits at four
pharmacies in Montreal.

To extend that training to firefighters and police officers, however,
would require changes to existing provincial regulations, which
Coderre said he endorses.

At the news conference with Coderre, Montreal police Chief Philippe
Pichet said he's aware of the proposed pilot project, but for the
moment would rather focus the force's efforts on investigations and
arresting dealers and distributors.

On Tuesday, the force announced it arrested seven people while
dismantling two drug rings last Friday it believes were specialized in
the sale of heroin and fentanyl. Police seized 19 grams of fentanyl
during the raids.

"If we can help, we will. I'm not against it," Pichet said of the
force's officers potentially being trained to carry naloxone kits.

"There are other possibilities to look into before we get to the
police," he said. "But if it can save a life, then why not."
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