With the spike of fentanyl overdoses in B.C., Saanich firefighters are now being equipped and trained with Naloxone, an overdose-reversing medication that prevents the patient from going into cardiac arrest.
Last year, the Saanich Fire Department responded to 39 overdoses. To date this year, Saanich Fire has already responded to 32 overdoses.
“As first responders, Saanich firefighters are often the first on scene of opioid overdose emergencies,” said Assistant Deputy Chief Dan Wood. “In these cases, time is of the essence, and having the ability to administer Naloxone as soon as possible will help our firefighters to save lives.”
Saanich firefighters have undergone training courses – which take about three hours – to learn about the function of the drug and how to administer Naloxone, adding to Saanich Fire’s first responder training.
The training follows new legislation from the B.C. government, allowing firefighters to give intramuscular injections. Training was initially implemented as a pilot project with firefighters in Vancouver and Surrey last year. The province saw 148 fentanyl-detected overdoses in the first four months of 2016, on par with 152 in 2015.