Pubdate: Tue, 27 Feb 2018
Source: Lethbridge Herald (CN AB)
Copyright: 2018 The Lethbridge Herald
Author: Tim Kalinowski
Page: A1


Emergency services responded to 16 cases on Friday and 42 since Feb.

Lethbridge had the single biggest spike of overdoses in a 24-hour
period during the ongoing opioid crisis this past weekend, with 16
cases being responded to by local emergency services personnel on
Friday alone.

"What we have seen over this past weekend is a dramatic increase in
the number of overdoses that our staff at Lethbridge Fire and EMS have
responded to," said deputy chief of support services Dana Terry, at a
hastily arranged press conference Monday morning. "Specifically with
overdoses where Narcan was administered."

According to Lethbridge Fire and EMS services, the spike has capped
off a brutal month in the city, with 42 overdose calls since Feb. 19.
No fatalities have so far been recorded, but with a new, more powerful
opioid coming into the city, first responders are on edge.

Terry confirmed the overdoses his crews have responded to in recent
weeks have required more Naloxone, (a common counter-opioid), than any
cases previously seen in the city. "We don't have the ability to test
what it is," said Terry, "and we know from the information we received
from our staff it is taking more Narcan to pull people out of their
overdose; more than usual."

Dr. Vivien Suttorp, lead medical officer with AHS for the South Zone,
believes new drugs entering the city and the recent spike in overdoses
are directly related.

"We think there is perhaps a new drug in town, and we're seeing higher
numbers of overdoses," she said.

The Lethbridge Police Service declined to identify the exact nature of
the drug which is causing the overdoses and, citing ongoing
investigations, would not say if they felt the deadly drugs were all
from the same source. Insp. Jason Dobirstein said finding the source
of the drugs, the suppliers and pushers, was a top priority of the
police service.

"We have teams that are working diligently to tackle this ... It is a
priority focus for us," said Dobirstein.

He expressed his hope the new Supervised Consumption Site in the city
would help alleviate the pressure on emergency responders by providing
a safe, medically supervised place for ingestion or inhalation of
drugs for the city's most vulnerable.

He also has a message of warning for all opioid users in the

"You don't know what is in the product you have just purchased. You
need to make sure you have the proper kit, Naloxone or Narcan, with
you. You never use alone, and be aware of the risks."

These kits can be picked up low cost at most local pharmacies, and are
provided free of charge at the Chinook Regional Hospital emergency

"People can come and get a kit, be trained and take it home," said

According to Lethbridge Fire and EMS, there were over 260 overdose
cases recorded in the city in 2017.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt