When a person or persons overdoses on drugs, time is of the essence in order to ensure their survival.
To help with this RCMP officers across Canada are being equipped with Naloxone, a drug that helps stop overdoses.
Nakusp RCMP received their Naloxone kits about two months ago, something Const. Lee Bellamy is very happy with.
“In smaller communities, we tend to be first response, so we get there a lot of times before the ambulance,” he said. “By us getting there first, if we can give them one or two doses of Naloxone it increases their chances substantially of survival.”
The Naloxone RCMP carry comes in the form of a one dose nasal spray. If a person is suffering an overdose the drug is put up the nose and the mist from the spray is absorbed very quickly. RCMP carry two doses with them.
The timing of Nakusp RCMP receiving their Naloxone kits could not be better, as fentanyl has made its way to the Kootenays.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid pain medication that can be 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. Because of this, even minuscule amounts of the drug can be deadly.
Nelson Police Chief Paul Burkart has actually created a fentanyl task force to help figure out how to deal with the fact that the drug is now in his community.
While fentanyl is now in Nelson, most of the drugs coming into Nakusp come from the Okanagan region. Cities like Kelowna and Vernon are also having issues in dealing with fentanyl, and Bellamy believes it will only be a matter of time before it makes its way to Nakusp.
Nakusp RCMP haven’t had to use the spray yet, but it has been used by members in New Denver.
A man was overdosing, and when RCMP arrived on scene he had already been administered one dose.
“When our officer got there the gentleman still wasn’t responding, so he administered ours, and the gentleman actually survived,” said Bellamy.
One thing he’s noticed is a change in how users are doing drugs, noting many users have someone with them when they do drugs. They will also have Naloxone or something similar with them if an overdose does start to happen.
Having the Naloxone on hand in case something does happen could mean the prevention of something very tragic.
“The difference between life and death can be seconds,” said Bellamy. “If we can administer Naloxone to them, even if it’s two minutes before the ambulance arrives, that gives them that two minutes chance of survival.”