Alberta government looking to increase the range of first responders carrying Naloxone
The province already provides injectable Naloxone kits and training to first responders, such as firefighters or police officers, at no cost
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The province wants to equip even more first responders with Naloxone beyond the firefighters, police and peace officers who were given legislative power to carry the overdose-reversing agent earlier this year, Premier Rachel Notley said Monday.
Notley did not elaborate on which groups might be next to carry the life-saving drug but said it’s something the provincial government has been wanting to do since they initially expanded access to injectable Naloxone in February.
“We have to keep safe the people helping keep the people safe,” Notley told reporters while attending a Labour Day BBQ in Calgary.
“One of the things that we ... are growing is increasing the availability of Naloxone throughout the province and also increasing the range of people who can administer (it)."
A Calgary Transit peace officer was hospitalized after possibly being exposed to fentanyl during an incident at Whitehorn CTrain station early Sunday morning, highlighting the danger even small amounts of the powerful opioid present.
Fentanyl has killed at least 241 Albertans in the first half of 2017 alone.
It’s not confirmed what substance made the officer ill, although Naloxone provided by EMS seemed to work and the officer was released from hospital later Sunday, according to Calgary Transit.
In a similar incident, the Alberta Paramedics Association’s website said this weekend it was accepting donations for another first responder who suffered a potential drug exposure in Calgary, although it didn't specify when the incident happened.
It said the paramedic ‘Ryan B.’ is "critically ill after a toxic exposure while on a call."
Marc Moebis, the association's executive director, said in an email that the paramedic's family wished for privacy and that the association won't be releasing the circumstances of the exposure.
"Right now the paramedic community is just pulling together to provide some relief and support for Ryan and his family," Moebis said in the email.
Unions representing first responders have been raising concerns about the potential exposure to toxic drugs like fentanyl since the crisis began escalating in 2011.
Notley said the government is working with them on the issue as part of the ongoing review of provincial health and safety laws.
“We know they’ll have ideas and recommendations for us and we’re happy to listen and work together with them,” she said.
Take-home Naloxone kits are available without prescription at 862 community pharmacies in Alberta, as well as several post-secondary institutions and nearly 100 health centres.
As of June 30 this year, 18,562 of the kits had been distributed in Alberta, according to the most recent data available from the province.
The government provides injectable Naloxone kits and training to fire and law enforcement officials at no cost, although the Calgary Police Service opts to purchase its own nasal naloxone kits.
With files from the Canadian Press.