B.C. pharmacist saves overdose victim’s life

Quick thinking by London Drugs staff

  • Nov. 1, 2018 9:30 a.m.

A Vancouver Island pharmacist has been credited with saving the life of an overdose victim.

The effectiveness of naloxone as an important tool in the fight against B.C.’s opioid epidemic has been well documented. Courtenay London Drugs pharmacy manager Tara Oxford experienced firsthand the life-saving power recently, after personally administering a naloxone shot to a customer who had overdosed inside the store.

“I just knew what I needed to do,” says Oxford, recalling the incident that took place in early October. “There was no judgment, I just thought, ‘This is the drug that is going to save his life.’ The situation was very intense, but it was very calm. Everybody had a very good understanding of what they needed to do.”

RELATED: One-third of Canada’s overdose deaths happen in BC

A typical workday at the Driftwood Mall outlet took a turn when a 24-year-old man asked to use the store’s public washroom and never reappeared. After about 40 minutes, and repeated failed attempts by staff to get his attention, store manager Adam Fraser opened the door with an emergency key, where the man was found slumped over on the toilet seat and unresponsive. Surrounded by drug paraphernalia, the man was pale blue and barely breathing.

London Drugs staff immediately jumped into crisis mode, calling 9-1-1, cordoning off the area, performing CPR and notifying Oxford to administer a naloxone injection. After gathering her supplies and running to the scene to inject the life-saving drug, Oxford recalls how quickly the medicine took effect.

“I gave the shot, and his colour came back pretty quickly,” she said. “He started to come around and by the time paramedics arrived and gave him some oxygen, he had turned pink again and walked straight on to the stretcher. It was absolutely incredible.”

VIDEO: How to use a naloxone kit

After receiving treatment at North Island Hospital, the young man was released and later came back to London Drugs that evening to thank staff for saving his life and allowing him to spend Thanksgiving with his family, Oxford said.

Oxford is intimately involved with the take-home naloxone kit campaign. She is a board member of the College of Pharmacists of BC, which had a hand in implementing the drug’s de-scheduling for emergency use in 2016.

That said, this was her first time administering the drug in a real-life situation.

“You see so much in the media about overdoses, but you rarely hear stories about people being saved,” Oxford said. “I think it’s important for people to know how effective [naloxone] is.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Skeena MLA advocates for small LNG project in Terrace

Many questions unanswered about project, say opponents

Terrace RCMP respond to firearms call on South Side

One person arrested without incident

The Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine office in Terrace is now open to the public

The office has been closed since March 17 due to COVID-19

New technology is helping battle avalanches near Stewart

The automated avalanche detection system just finished a successful first season

If Trudeau won’t stand up to Trump, how will regular people: Singh

Trudeau did not directly answer a question about Trump’s actions amid protests

Facing changes together: your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

As two B.C. offices see outbreaks, Dr. Henry warns tests don’t replace other measures

Physical distancing, PPE and sanitizing remain key to reduce COVID-19 spread

Young killer whale untangles itself from trap line off Nanaimo shore

DFO marine mammal rescue unit was en route as whale broke free from prawn trap line

Racist incident shocks Vancouver Island First Nation

Port Alberni RCMP investigating after video shows truck wheeling through Tseshaht territory

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

Vancouver Island school principal mourns brother, cousin killed during U.S. protests

Jelks says he’s grateful for the outpouring of support from the community in the wake of this tragedy

Bank of Canada keeps key interest rate target on hold at 0.25%

Central bank now expects GDP to decline between 10 and 20 per cent compared with the fourth quarter of 2019

RCMP, coroner investigate murder-suicide on Salt Spring Island

Two dead, police say there is no risk to the public

Most Read