Pubdate: Wed, 20 Dec 2017
Source: Calgary Herald (CN AB)
Copyright: 2017 Postmedia Network
Author: Yolanda Cole
Page: A1


Since being equipped with naloxone nasal spray last December, Calgary
firefighters have administered the opioid overdose antidote to 326

That's nearly once a day, said fire Chief Steve Dongworth, who noted
the department has also seen an increase in overdose calls.

"We often go to overdose calls where we don't necessarily administer
Narcan (the trade name of the drug), for one reason or another, and
we've seen a significant increase in the volume of those, year over
year - from under 400 calls in 2016 to nearly 1,100 in 2017 to date,"
said Dongworth. "So that's close to a 300 per cent increase."

He said while firefighters were always able to provide medical
attention at overdose calls, the difference the naloxone nasal spray
makes is crews can administer a medication that has "pretty much an
immediate effect" in temporarily reversing the effect of the opioid

"We know in some circumstances, certainly out of those 326 patients
we've administered to, we've certainly saved some lives by having that
product available," said Dongworth.

"We've seen situations where the person is not viable for revival and
we've also seen others where I can assure you, we've brought people
back who are without pulse and not breathing."

Dongworth said the fire department responds to about 57,000 calls a
year. This year, it has seen about a 12.6 per cent increase to date,
compared with 2016. "We believe that part of this growth is attributed
to opioid overdoses," he said.

The naloxone nasal spray kits were distributed to all fire department
trucks that could be sent to medical calls on Dec. 13, 2016.

Calgary police also distributed naloxone nasal spray kits to frontline
service members in March, along with training in First Aid and how to
administer the medication.

Staff Sgt. Peter Duchnij said that since then, officers have used the
antidote approximately 65 times.

"The fact that we can assist in saving lives and ensuring that the
public is safe - that's our No. 1 priority," he said.

He added after individuals are revived, police are doing what they can
"to make sure that person's on the right track."

"Whether it's getting other resources in place ... we're working
collaboratively with a whole bunch of different external partners to
make sure that we can do what we can to put whatever crisis they're in
in the right hands," said Duchnij.

The kits, which contain two doses of naloxone, cost the police service
$125 each.

According to numbers released by the Public Health Agency of Canada on
Monday, at least 1,460 Canadians died from opioid-related overdoses in
the first half of 2017.

In Alberta, there were 482 accidental drug overdose deaths related to
an opioid between Jan. 1, 2017, and Sept. 30, 2017, the latest report
released by Alberta Health indicates.

- - With a file from The Canadian Press
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