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Terrace paramedics equipped to handle overdoses

TERRACE paramedic Shauna McCully holding up a vial of nalaxone and syringe that paramedics use on people who have overdosed on opiates.  - MARGARET SPEIRS PHOTO
TERRACE paramedic Shauna McCully holding up a vial of nalaxone and syringe that paramedics use on people who have overdosed on opiates.
— image credit: MARGARET SPEIRS PHOTO

Emergency crews here are able to reverse opioid drug overdoses and save lives as kits have become available to carry with them.

Naloxone brings a person near death from an opioid overdose back to life and paramedics here have been using it for a long time.

“It's not really a kit. We carry vials and they're good for about six overdoses,” said Terrace ambulance unit chief Cheryl Stewart.

All of paramedics here are trained on how to use Naloxone, she added.

Soon, Terrace firefighters and Terrace RCMP officers will carrying it with them too.

City of Terrace fire chief John Klie said the department's instructors have been trained to teach it to the rest of the firefighters.

The department will probably carry a couple of kits in the fire trucks and keep extra at the fire hall.

First responders would only use it if they arrive before the ambulance, which usually is there first, he said.

Terrace RCMP Const. Angela Rabut said police officers here would be carrying the kits in the very near future and would take an online course before using them.

The increased availability of Naloxone kits comes as great news as the BC Coroner's Service released its report for Illicit Drug Overdose Deaths in BC in 2016 earlier this year.

The report shows that 914 people died in the province last year, a 79.2 per cent increase from 520 deaths in 2015.

Looking closer at our own area, Northern Health's number of overdose deaths closely follows the rest of the province.

Northern Health's illicit drug overdose deaths numbered 49 in 2016, nearly double the 25 deaths in 2015.

Breaking the numbers down to the Northwest Health Services Delivery Area – Terrace, Nisga'a, Telegraph Creek, Stikine, Kitimat, Smithers, Upper Skeena, Prince Rupert, Queen Charlotte Islands and Snow Country – illicit drug overdose deaths numbered 12 in 2016, double the six deaths in 2015.

Northern Health joins the Interior and Vancouver Coastal health authorities with its number of illicit drug overdose deaths in the month of December 2016 more than double the monthly average for those health authorities in 2016.

Fentanyl has been in the news for its role in overdose deaths in the province last year.

The BC Coroners Service said illicit fentanyl–detected deaths in the province appear to account largely for the increase in illicit drug overdose deaths since 2012 as the number of illicit drug overdose deaths excluding fentanyl has remained relatively stable since 2011 (an average of 293 deaths per year).

The data for the proportion of illicit drug overdose deaths for which fentanyl was detected is expected to be updated later this month to allow time for toxicology tests to be completed for 2016, said the coroners service report.

 

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