Chief wants Welland firefighters to be equipped with naloxone
The Standard
 
Fire Chief Adam Eckhart wants Welland firefighters to be equipped with naloxone to help people suffering from the effects of opioid overdoses.
 

In a report to be presented during a special city council meeting, he’ll ask city councillors Thursday to do just that.

“Welland (Fire and Emergency Services) responds to approximately 1,500 medical assistance calls annually. A growing portion of these medical responses are believed to be overdose incidents,” said Eckhart in his report.

“The Niagara Region has identified 150 opioid-related deaths in 2020, and the monthly average in 2021 has increased to 14.”

He said given the risks to citizens and responders due to overdose calls, it is recommended firefighters be trained to carry and administer naloxone (Narcan), as required.

The chief’s report said three fire departments in Niagara carry naloxone and are provided necessary kits and training through the province at no cost.

Eckhart said local medical director Dr. Doug Munkley has authorized the use of naloxone by way of policy to the firefighter medical assistance program, authorized by the tiered response agreement with Niagara Emergency Medical Services.

“The training of firefighters will be completed during regular training hours,” said the chief’s report.

It described opioids as natural, such as opium, or synthetic substances, duplicating the chemical structure of opium, drugs used to reduce pain in clinical settings. They are also produced and consumed non-medically.

Opioid narcotics include heroin, morphine, oxycodone (OxyContin), hydrocodone (Vicodin), fentanyl and carfentanil (Wildnil).

“Clinically, opioids are used for pain management. However, opioid-related harms such as addiction and overdose frequently occur during non-clinical use. Opioids affect the part of the brain that controls breathing. Strong opioids, like fentanyl, are contaminating the illegal drug supply and causing high rates of overdoses and death,” the chief’s report said.

Naloxone is a tool used temporarily block the effects of an opioid overdose.

“It works to reverse the effects of respiratory depression, meaning slowed or stopped breathing, caused by opioids for 30 to 90 minutes,” the report said.

Thursday’s special meeting starts at 5 p.m. with an in-camera session followed by open session. It can be viewed on the city’s website at www.welland.ca/Council/LiveStream.asp.

 

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