Sun Peaks Community Health Centre (SPCHC) is hosting two free naloxone training sessions on Wednesday, March 8.
Naloxone is a medication that temporarily reverses opioid poisoning, providing time for emergency services to arrive. The training sessions are open to “everybody and anybody,” according to Laura Bantock, a registered nurse and the executive director for SPCHC. The half-hour sessions take place at 12 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. that day.
Training will be held in the health centre’s education room to the far right of the new ambulance bay. The sessions include a presentation, information, hands-on training and naloxone kits provided by a registered nurse.
Bantock said the sessions were prompted after community leaders gathered to discuss “a worrying [opioid poisoning] trend in our region.”
According to BC Emergency Health Services data, Interior Health saw a 9 per cent increase in drug poisoning calls in 2022, despite a 5 per cent drop for the province overall.
Bantock explained she contacted Kamloops Mental Health and Substance Use (MHSU) to collaborate and provide naloxone training sessions for health centre employees and the general public. MHSU registered nurse Gaudenza Ramunno specializes in harm reduction and will be running the sessions.
Bantock said having these skills saves lives.
“It’s important [people] have the ability to revive somebody who is suffering the effects of an opioid poisoning [so they can] confidently use this medication … and save a life,” Bantock explained.
In an emailed statement provided by MHSU and Ramunno, they said they “are deeply grateful to community members who get trained in how to recognize an overdose and the ways to respond, including the administration of naloxone.”
Ramunno wrote she is “excited” the community is “eager for more information and would be receptive to this education. Every person has the right to the best possible health care and with harm reduction initiatives, we can connect people to services and treatment.”
If anyone experienced drug poisoning in Sun Peaks, the fire department would respond.
Sun Peaks Fire Chief Dean Schiavon said the team is trained to use naloxone for drug poisoning.
“We just did a refresher for administering naloxone, but typically we don’t receive a lot of medical calls for overdoses … for [alcohol poisonings], it’s one or two per year. It’s so minimal that it’s hard to really report on,” Schiavon said.
With Sun Peaks growing, Schiavon said he supports harm reduction initiatives.
New legislation in B.C. decriminalized personal possession of small amounts of illicit substances for people aged 18 years and older this year.
B.C. enacted the legislation because of the toxic drug crisis in the province. In 2022 alone, B.C. had 2,272 suspected deaths from toxic illicit drugs, the second largest on record, only surpassed by the previous year’s deaths, according to a report by the Coroners Service.
Decriminalized substances include opioids, cocaine, methamphetamine and MDMA. The exemption from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act was granted to the province by Health Canada, started on Jan. 31, 2023, and is in effect until Jan. 31, 2026.
Under the legislation, anyone possessing up to 2.5 grams or less of the exempted substances won’t be charged, and their supply won’t be confiscated. They will be provided information regarding “health and social supports,” according to the B.C. government website.
B.C.’s Good Samaritan Act protects people who provide medical services to others experiencing a medical emergency so they won’t be held responsible for injury or death.
Anyone who wants to attend the free training is welcome, according to Bantock. However, if there is high demand, the health centre is happy to do back-to-back sessions.
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