Pubdate: Sat, 10 Feb 2018
Source: Recorder & Times, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2018 Recorder and Times
Author: Sabrina Bedford
Page: A1


The fire department in ElizabethtownKitley wants to opt out of
carrying naloxone kits in its fire trucks.

In a report to council set to be discussed on Monday, the township's
fire department says it unanimously decided it does not want to
participate in the Ontario Naloxone Program at this time.

The provincial fire marshal and chief of emergency management informed
the township in December they will be expanding the naloxone program
to include funding for two naloxone kits for each fire truck used in
their role as first responders.

Nalaxone is an anti-opioid drug that reverses an overdose.

Yvonne Robert, the township's clerk, said firefighters are called out
to many of the first response calls because, at times, they can get
there quicker than the ambulance can.

But the fire department has its reservations about being responsible
for administering naloxone, especially when firefighters know the
paramedics are not far behind them.

"They have to feel comfortable doing it," Robert said.

"This is a little bit outside of their comfort level at this

Fentanyl - a synthetic opioid prescribed to treat severe pain - is
approximately 100 times more potent than morphine and 40 times more
potent than heroin, and it's being mixed in with other drugs, such as
cocaine, crystal meth, heroin and fake prescription drugs at an
increasing rate.

Robert said between May to July 2017 in Leeds and Grenville, 14
overdose calls were responded to, and of those calls, local fire
departments responded to just five, according to the United Counties
of Leeds and Grenville Emergency Services.

However, because opioids are showing up in street drugs at more
alarming rates, the Health Unit told the Counties there's a concern
regarding "field parties" that tend to occur at the end of the school
year and they anticipate more calls for overdoses.

"Traditionally the fire service sends one vehicle to a first response
which means only two naloxone kits will be available," Jim Donovan,
the township's fire chief, wrote in the report.

"If there are multiple overdoses as suggested by the Health Unit, the
onus will rest on the township's first responders to determine who
gets the shot and who does not. This will result in not only legal
issues but will also affect the first responder's emotional well-being
as they will be forced to choose."

If firefighters are the first to show up on the scene of an overdose,
they know paramedics are usually just minutes behind them.
Firefighters are already trained on the ABC's - airway, breathing and
circulation - and they feel this level of response is sufficient to
support an overdose patient until paramedics can attend.

They also have several concerns regarding training, cost, and
liability. "There is a concern regarding the amount of training
required which would be in addition to the already substantial
training firefighters currently are required to do and there will be
additional costs in order to complete the training on a regular
basis," the report states.

"There may be impacts regarding the cost of insurance as fire fighters
are not considered 'good Samaritans' when responding, so malpractice
insurance would be required if this program is adopted."

Most police forces throughout the counties are now equipped with
naloxone kits not for the purpose of administering to the public, but
in case officers themselves come into contact with a narcotic.

Robert said they did consider this, but since they are emergency
responders, if they get exposed to an opioid while helping a patient,
it then becomes a decision of who to use the kit on.

"What if they looked after their own by administering the naloxone (to
a firefighter), but they didn't look after the one that was overdosing
? It's just a little tricky."

The report will be discussed at council on Monday.
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