Saanich Police will now have a new weapon at their disposal to fight a scourge that is taking a horrible toll on residents here and around the province.
Saanich Police plan to purchase naloxone for first-line responders once policy and training initiatives have been completed. According to Health Canada, naloxone (hydrochloride) can stop or reverse the effects of an overdose caused by the consumption of opioids.
“Once research has been completed and policy is implemented, we’ll be able to discuss the use by Saanich Police,” said acting Sgt. Jeremy Leslie with Saanich Police.
The decision to supply police officers with naloxone comes at a time when the casualties from drug overdose is reaching epidemic proportions. More than 555 people have died from illicit drug overdoses in B.C. so far this year, already more than the total for all of 2015. While Vancouver may be ground zero for the crisis, Island Health reports there have been 107 overdose deaths this year.
First responders with the Saanich Fire Department began carrying naloxone since earlier this year. Assistant deputy chief Dan Wood said naloxone allows firefighters to save lives in situations where time is of the essence. He said noloxone has given first responders “quite an advantage” in responding to overdoses caused by opiods.
Some may question the use of public resources to benefit those engaged in illegal activities. But that shouldn’t even be part of the equation. First responders don’t judge an accident victim’s driving habits before administering aid on the side of the highway, or question someone’s lifestyle choices when they are suffering a heart attack.
The use of naloxone by first responders is going to result in lives being saved, and that is the only thing that matters. There are other programs in place designed to help people deal with addictions.