Tamara Barnett, a Street Outreach Nurse in Victoria, has saved 35 people from dying because of an opioid overdose by using Naloxone.
Naloxone is a medication that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose when injected into an arm, buttocks or thigh muscle. Within one to five minutes, Naloxone can reverse slowed breathing for 30 to 90 minutes, enough time to get additional help. Opioids include heroin, morphine, fentanyl and codeine.Noxalone is available in take home kits at no cost for people who have a history of using substances. Concerned family and friends can purchase the kits. Everyone who takes home a kit has to complete Take Home Naloxone training.Between January and September this year there have been 107 overdose deaths on Vancouver Island, seven of which have been in the North Island service delivery area, and 2,270 ambulance calls where Naloxone was used. Early last year when Island Health saw an increasing trend in overdoses they began training more health care workers, like Barnett, to administer naloxone as well as work with their patients to prevent overdoses. Between January and September 600 staff on the Island were trained to use Naloxone.“We have recently completed training and implementation in all emergency and urgent care departments on Vancouver Island,” said Griffin Russell, Regional Harm Reduction Coordinator for Island Health. “This accomplishment is in addition to having already implemented the program in all public health units and the majority of mental health and substance use offices.”
Russell has been to Campbell River, training both staff in the hospital and mental health and substance abuse teams in the community. He said one of the key focuses has been overdose recognition as well as how to work with those at risk to prevent overdoses from happening.
As a street nurse, Barnett actually got her training three years ago, and since then has herself trained hundreds of clients, friends and family of those who use drugs.
“It has been extremely difficult watching my patients die, and then having to comfort those who loved them,” she said. “It is critical to have naloxone available to the front-line staff, but more importantly, to people who use drugs, and their friends and family members who are worried about them. With the Take Home Naloxone program we are now able to provide education on how to use naloxone, and we are able to give naloxone kits to people who need this life-saving drug the most.”
For more information or to find out where you can get a Naloxone kit in Campbell River visit towardtheheart.com