Pubdate: Sat, 23 Dec 2017
Source: Tribune, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017, Osprey Media Group Inc.
Author: Allan Benner
Page: A1


Police want laws to change regarding the drug naloxone

Special Investigations Unit spokesperson Monica Hudon said the
organization is mandated to investigate all deaths and serious
injuries involving the police, and that includes cases "where the
extent of alleged involvement was simply the administration of a
medication such as naloxone."

"Whether or not the administration of the drug by a police officer was
the only interaction with a person who subsequently died or suffered a
serious injury is for the SIU to determine," she said.

Priest said the threat of an investigation "is going to weigh heavily
on the minds of the officers if they try to help someone, they could
end up having their life screwed up for at least a year because that's
how long it takes SIU to complete an investigation and clear officers."

He said most police officers would use the naloxone, anyway, and "then
they have to suffer the consequences, which is not fair."

Priest called it a Catch 22.

"Can you imagine how you'd feel if you don't do it and someone passes
away? That would have a devastating impact on my members. If they know
they could have helped, but didn't," he said.

But if police do use the medication, "we jeopardize our careers our
livelihood?" "You're damned if you do. You're damned if you don't."

Positive Living Niagara executive director Glen Walker, whose
organization distributes hundreds of naloxone kits to community
volunteers every year through its StreetWorks program, said it's also
"really important" for firefighters, Niagara Emergency Medical Service
paramedics and for police officers to have naloxone kits.

"There's no two ways about it. The more we have out there, the more
people will be able to use it," he said.

But because naloxone needs to be used as soon as possible, he said the
organization is primarily targeting the users themselves as well as
people close to them.

"If someone's on the floor and turning blue, by the time you pick up
the phone even to call 911, it may actually be too late. Ideally, we
want that kit there in that home before that call is actually made,"
Walker said.

"We're really getting it into the hands of people who are going to use
it and use it immediately. I think certainly our work in getting it
out to active injection drug users and people around them and family
members is paramount for us."

The efforts appear to be working. "We have families coming in who have
children or loved ones who are engaged in drug use hoping to get the
kits," he said.

"What's happening is a number of people do overdose and they have the
kit there. They're using it before they ever call police or EMS. Quite
often, EMS will arrive and they'll see that the kits have been used

And although the Good Samaritan Act does not protect police from SIU
probes, Walker said the legislation does protect the organization's
volunteers and members of the community.

During a police board meeting Thursday, police Chief Bryan MacCulloch
said he would like to equip all frontline officers with naloxone and
train them in its use, but plans to write letter to the SIU early next
year to determine the organization's potential response. Without
protection from potential litigation, Priest said having the drug
available to police officers would only add to the problem.

"That's the other side of it. If we have it and don't administer it,
SIU could then again investigate us for not assisting someone," Priest
said. "It just puts out members in a very bad position."
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