St. John’s Ambulance is rolling out its hands-on courses on how to inject the overdose-reversal drug Naloxone across the country.
The courses, which have been offered in B.C. for several months, tackle Naloxone injection and artificial respiration, with each participant performing at least half a dozen simulated injections using material provided through the Take Home Naloxone program.
The material was developed in response to the province’s growing opioid crisis, which has killed more than 1,000 people in the first eight months of 2017 alone.
Just last month, five people died of drug overdoses over only nine hours in Abbotsford, while and an unknown green opiate caused seven unusually severe, although non-fatal, overdoses overnight at one supervised consumption site in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.
As the crisis has worsened, classes on how to use Naloxone kits have been taught everywhere, from schools to community centres, and many firefighters in departments across the province are trained to administer it.
It’s also led the BC Centre on Substance Use to recommend injectable opioids as a possible treatment for drug users. Just this week, the Fraser Health Authority launched a new campaign urging people to talk to their loved ones about drugs before it’s too late.
Almost nine out of 10 participants felt willing to help someone in the middle of an overdose, according to post-course surveys, compared to just 15 per cent before taking the class.
These aren’t the only Naloxone training classes to be offered in B.C., but St. John Ambulance training director Keith Tyler said these are unique in offering a practice element.