At the April 3rd Council meeting, Fire Chief Bill Balfour requested approval to secure emergency kits of Naloxone used to treat opioid overdoses. The request was prompted by a letter from the office of the Fire Marshal which outlined the expansion of the Ontario Naloxone Program to police and fire services within the Province. Once administered, the effects if Naloxone can last for approximately 20 minutes to one hour, depending on the strength of the opioid, giving time to secure medical treatment for the individual suffering from an overdose.
Chief Balfour explained that the Naloxone kits would allow fire department staff to respond more effectively to medical calls involving overdoses to which they may be dispatched under the Paramedic and Fire Services tiered response agreement. It will also ensure the staff will have timely protection should they have inadvertent contact with opioids during the course of their duties.
Mayor McFadden applauded Chief Balfour’s effort to get ahead of the issue and Council agreed that the Fire Department should proceed with an agreement with the Peterborough County Health Unit for the supply and use of Naloxone. Staff training for the use of the antidote was completed by the end of April, and now both Naloxone and Ephedrine are in service on township Fire Trucks. Chief Balfour was very pleased with the support of Council to provide the fire department staff with both of these enhancements which will provide protection to staff and the public when responding to emergencies within the community.
The decision, it seemed, was timely. On April 9th, Peterborough Police issued a public warning about opioids like fentanyl after attending the scenes of three unrelated suspected illicit drug related accidental overdoses within a 48 hour period. In response to these events, the police reminded the public of the dangers of illicit drugs and particularly opioids, the strength of which is difficult to determine and which are often mixed with other dangerous substances. They suggested that users should proceed only in the presence of another person and ensure they have immediate access to this antidote.
Naloxone is available free of charge from numerous pharmacies, the Health Unit at 185 King Street and from PARN at 159 King Street in Peterborough. In the event of a suspected overdose, an immediate call to 911 may save a life. For more information relating to opiates and Naloxone please visit Peterborough Drug Strategy . KG