The Situation Room – Allowing first responders to administer naxalone is appropriate

Mac Olsen
Kudos to the Edmonton Fire Department for its willingness to provide the vital service of administering naxalone to opioid users, to help save their lives.

It’s not just the Edmonton Fire Department that can do this, as all first responders throughout Alberta will be able to provide this service.
The Edmonton Journal had a report about this in their February 7 edition.

“Now firefighters across the province can administer injectable naxalone, giving them an additional life-saving tool when responding to an overdose call,” said Brandy Payne, the Associate Minister of Health.

Edmonton Fire Chief Ken Block is on board with providing the service, especially as it will also help to save the lives of first responders.

“The addition of naxalone to fire apparatus will enhance our service to the public and ensure our firefighters are protected in the event they come in contact with an opioid while performing their duties,” he said in the interview.

This is something I hope that Smoky River Fire and Rescue and the McLennan RCMP Detachment will take up as well.

The Journal’s report also noted that 343 people died in Alberta last year from overdosing on Fentanyl. So it’s critical that naxalone be available on a widescale basis.

This announcement is very timely. I went to a meeting at the Elks and Royal Purple Community Hall in McLennan on January 10. Two undercover police officers highlighted the extreme dangers of Fentanyl.

Prior to their presentation, I knew about its fatal potential, but not how much.

For instance, if you get even a microgram – which is smaller than a grain of salt – on your skin by direct contact, that could be enough to kill you.

When a production or distribution site is found, extreme precautions are required. We’re talking about using fully-enclosed, self-contained life support systems like those used to clean up asbestos sites.

The undercover officers showed a photo of a police car in Vancouver that was contaminated with Fentanyl powder. The cost of the cleanup for that car was in the thousands of dollars.

If a house is contaminated, it could run into the tens of thousands of dollars and it has to pass an inspection verifying it’s free of contamination, before occupancy will be permitted again.

They showed several photos of dwellings that were contaminated with Fentanyl powder.

But the most alarming aspect of Fentanyl is that it’s not found in just one form. Those involved in its production are coming up with new variations all the time. This means research has to be done continuously, to keep ahead of the threats and fatalities.

I have no sympathy for those involved in the production and distribution of opioids like Fentanyl. They have no regard for the harm they do to the users and first responders. They deserve life imprisonment for their heinous crime, with no chance of release. Ever.

But, with naxalone now available to first responders throughout Alberta, hopefully there will be fewer deaths.

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