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Province expands naloxone program, adds treatment spaces

Alberta firefighters have greater access to lifesaving naloxone kits now that all first responders can administer naloxone by injection. 

Province expands naloxone program, adds treatment spaces 31038

Associate Minister of Health Brandy Payne announced the province is expanding it's naloxone program and adding treatment spaces.

“Our first responders are heroes for their work saving lives on the front lines. Now firefighters across the province can administer injectable naloxone, giving them an additional life-saving tool when responding to an overdose call. Making naloxone more widely accessible to individuals and organizations who want the kits will also help prevent further deaths.”

Brandy Payne, Associate Minister of Health

“Safety is Edmonton Fire Rescue Service’s number one priority. So, on behalf of our department, I would like to thank Alberta Health for their commitment to protecting citizens and first responders across the province. The addition of naloxone to fire apparatus will enhance our service to the public and ensure our firefighters are protected in the event they come into contact with an opioid while performing their duties.”

Ken Block, Edmonton Fire Chief

The province is moving ahead on several other measures to combat opioids:

  • An opioid dependency treatment (ODT) clinic is preparing to open in Grande Prairie this spring to serve 300 patients. An additional 300 patients in AHS ODT clinics have been identified as ready to transition to primary health-care providers, with the aim of opening up spaces for new patients.
  • Alberta Health is publishing quarterly public reports on opioid overdose data and will begin publishing interim reports on fentanyl deaths. Alberta Health is working with Indigenous groups to share information to support improved data collection and reporting.
  • Grant funding of $730,000 is being provided to support agencies in several communities, including Edmonton and Calgary, working to establish supervised consumption services.

Naloxone saves lives when given immediately and followed up with emergency medical support. Injectable naloxone kits and training are being provided at no cost to first responders. However, police and fire departments remain free to make their own operational decisions about carrying and administering naloxone.

“The Alberta Fire Fighters Association applauds the Government of Alberta in its efforts to improve the safety of citizens by allowing frontline first responders to administer naloxone. The ability of firefighters to administer naloxone is a very important tool in the management of the opioid crisis. Firefighters across Alberta will now be of greater assistance to our partners in EMS by delivering timely and effective treatment to those experiencing a potentially deadly opioid overdose.”

Craig Macdonald, Alberta Fire Fighters Association

“We’re pleased to hear the province is supporting the delivery and training of naloxone so police officers and firefighters can administer naloxone in the communities we serve. Having more first responders trained in naloxone will save lives and also hopefully reduce the risk of exposure to this drug to first responders.”

Kyle Melting Tallow, Deputy Chief, Blood Tribe Police

Naloxone is being made an unscheduled drug, allowing anyone to get a kit without a prescription. This will make it easier for community agencies to provide naloxone kits.

Fentanyl and other opioids continue to have a deadly impact on Alberta communities. Last year, 343 people died of apparent drug overdoses related to fentanyl in this province.  That compares to 257 in 2015. In the last three months of 2016, there were 111 fentanyl-related overdose deaths in Alberta.  That compares to 81 in the previous quarter and 52 in the fourth quarter of 2015.

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