Orillia firefighters to carry naloxone kits
Orillia firefighters to carry naloxone kits
May 31, 2017
Article by: Andrew Philips
A standard naloxone kit is pictured.

POSTMEDIA NETWORK FILES A standard naloxone kit is pictured.

The city's first responders will soon get new tools to help those experiencing severe allergic reactions or drug overdoses.
Council committee gave its support Monday to a plan that will see the Orillia Fire Department begin carrying and administering epinephrine to deal with allergic reactions. They will also be equipped with naloxone, a drug used to combat the effects of an opioid overdose by reversing its negative effects so the person can breathe normally and potentially regain consciousness.
Mayor Steve Clarke said some of the statistics provided by the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit provide hard evidence drug overdoses have become a very real issue in the region.
“It's alarming” he said. “Simcoe-Muskoka has a 29% higher death rate (than the rest of Ontario) from fentanyl, averaging 35 deaths a year.”
In 2015, there were 43 opioid deaths among Simcoe-Muskoka residents, including eight that were related to fentanyl. From 2012 to 2015, there were, on average, 35 opioid deaths per year, with one in four fatalities related to fentanyl.
Clarke also mentioned a staff report that pointed out fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine, and that fentanyl analogues like carfentanil can be as much as 100 times more powerful than fentanyl.
Clarke said having firefighters administering the drugs makes sense since they're normally on scene before paramedics – a report stated the difference in arrival time between the two professions was three minutes. As well, firefighters have patient contact four minutes and 35 seconds sooner.
The cost per dose for naloxone is $70. It costs $100 per dose for epinephrine, a prescribed drug administered to those in anaphylactic shock from an allergic reaction that can be caused by a bee sting or a food allergy.
Council committee's move also means Dr. Michael Boucher will serve as the fire department's medical adviser by overseeing all medical programs while also providing the the necessary training relating to delivering drugs, including naloxone – which will likely be administered by firefighters through a nasal spray.
In the past three years, the fire department has responded to 50 drug-related emergencies (19 in 2014, eight in 2015 and 23 last year). So far this year, it has responded to five.
Coun. Jeff Clark said the statistics point to a dramatic increase in drug overdoses, which translates into municipalities and agencies needing to be proactive.
“If they can save a life, then it's appropriate,” Clark said, noting Barrie's fire department has reported four instances when lives were saved by administering naloxone.