Story by Erica Fisher, 2Day FM Grande Prairie
The province of Alberta has taken a major step towards fighting fentanyl overdoses.
On Tuesday, the Associate Minister of Health Brandy Payne said that firefighters across Alberta will be given greater access to injectable naloxone kits. They temporarily reverse opioid overdoses, which the province saw a spike in last year.
“These tools come as the number of people dying in Alberta to fentanyl-related overdoses is rising,” argues Payne. “Last year there were 343 overdose deaths in the province, believed to be a result of fentanyl.
That’s up from 257 the year before. There have so far been 22 deaths from carfentanil, but some cases from last year are still being tested. The province will begin publishing reports on fentanyl deaths, in order to keep the public up to date.
While the training program will be rolled out first in Edmonton, Craig Macdonald of the Alberta Firefighters Association says he’s pleased firefighters will be equipped.
“With Alberta Health supplying naloxone kits and the training for those naloxone kits, it will provide a very important tool in supporting our goal as professional firefighters and an increase in public safety.”
Naloxone will also be listed as an unscheduled drug, allowing anyone to get a kit in Alberta.
An opioid dependency treatment clinic will also be opening in Grande Prairie this spring. The province says it will be able to handle 300 patients, and another 300 already in clinics are ready to move to primary health care providers.