St. John Ambulance is offering a series of opioid overdose response training courses in Campbell River. Photo courtesy St. John Ambulance

St. John Ambulance to offer free overdose response workshops in Campbell River

Training courses come as overdose deaths continue to mount on North Island and across B.C.

Local residents interested in learning to save lives amid the ongoing opioid crisis should mark their calendars, as St. John Ambulance prepares to offer a series of free overdose response workshops in Campbell River.

The training sessions are designed to prepare participants for the moment of crisis, said Drew Binette, director of strategic partnerships and fund development for the charitable group’s B.C. and Yukon wing.

“You’ve never encountered somebody who’s not breathing, and it’s a very scary situation,” said Binette. “We really want folks to leave this class feeling confident.”

During the 3.5-hour workshops in Campbell River, participants will perform simulated injections of naloxone, a lifesaving drug for reversing overdoses, by sinking a needle into a kind of artificial skin patch, Binette said.

Attendees will also learn to provide artificial respiration, a key lifesaving technique during an overdose, he said.

VIDEO: Opioid crisis hitting First Nations people hard in Campbell River

The workshops involve scenarios designed to enable people to identify an overdose, manage the scene of the emergency, and care for themselves after the intervention.

Binette noted that since the effects of opioids are longer-lasting than naloxone, people need to be prepared to administer the medication more than once, as one overdose may follow another.

It’s not a process that most people are comfortable with at first, he said.

“The majority of us have never touched a syringe, have never used a syringe,” he said. “At the end of the 3.5 hours, you’ll be more confident than when you entered it on how to administer naloxone and save a life.”

He added that participants will get a free naloxone kit to take home following the workshops, which are sponsored by the B.C. Ministry of Mental Health and Addiction.

“You get the knowledge, and then you get the tools to actually provide the lifesaving treatment,” he said.

The 12-person sessions – which involve an overview of the ongoing public health crisis – are geared towards reducing stigma, Binette said.

He noted that overdose victims come from all walks of life, including workers who get hooked on painkillers after getting injured on the job, or elderly people who may accidentally apply too many prescription fentanyl patches.

The workshops are taking place across the country, but concentrated in the B.C.-Yukon area, Binette said. No first-aid experience is necessary, he added.

READ MORE: How a Campbell River group prevents fatalities amid the opioid crisis

The Campbell River workshops begin on the morning of Jan. 9 and continue until the end of March. Each session takes place at the local St. John Ambulance office, at 170 Dogwood St., and people can register at the front desk, by calling 1-866-321-2651 or by emailing The full schedule is available at

Preliminary figures for 2018 indicate that overdoses killed some 20 people on the North Island alone by the end of November, according to Dr. Charmaine Enns, medical health officer for northern Vancouver Island.

At least nine of those fatalities took place in the Campbell River area, she said.

Overdose deaths across the province are many times higher than a decade ago, before the onset of the opioid crisis, but Enns stressed that statistics only tell a small part of the story.

“They’re not just numbers, they’re people,” said Enns. “They’re people that matter, and they’re people with loved ones.”

She also noted that while death is the extreme event – the “tip of this awful iceberg” – the effects of the opioid crisis are multiple, including brain injuries and other complications. She noted that a wide range of efforts are needed to address the opioid crisis.

VIDEO: Mobile harm reduction team on the road to fight overdose crisis in Campbell River

The overdose workshops are a new initiative for St. John Ambulance, a group well known for providing first-aid training around the world.

St John Ambulance traces its roots back to the founding of a hospital in Jerusalem during the 11th century.

According a historical overview on the group’s website, the modern organization emerged in England during the 1870s, when it began training ordinary people in first-aid amid the frequent workplace deaths of the Industrial Revolution.

St. John Ambulance was established in Canada in 1883, and it came to B.C. in 1911.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Strathcona Regional District looking at pay hikes for board members

The Strathcona Regional District board is planning on a pay raise. At… Continue reading

City still fighting for long-term plan for Snowden

Another letter from the province without ‘tangible response’ spurs mayor to request in-person meeting

Willow Point Summer Market back for third go-round

Now accepting applications for ‘anything and everything,’ but specifically in need of entertainers

Carihi fly fishers earn invite to National Championship

10 students will travel to Maple Ridge next month, but they need your help to get there

Storm sweeps Saanich in semifinals

Despite starting well after the other semi-final series, the Storm now has to wait….

Protective human chain forms around Victoria mosque for Friday prayer

Islanders stand arm-in-arm to show support in aftermath of New Zealand shootings

‘Families torn apart:’ Truck driver in fatal Broncos crash gets 8-year sentence

Judge Inez Cardinal told court in Melfort, Sask., that Sidhu’s remorse and guilty plea were mitigating factors

Vancouver Island motorists attempted CPR on victim in fatal Highway 4 crash

Collision took place west of Whiskey Creek; man in his 70s died

Boy who went missing from park remains largest probe in Victoria police history

The four-year old Victoria boy went missing without a trace on March 24, 1991

WestJet sticking with Boeing 737 Max once planes certified to fly

WestJet had expected to add two more of the planes this year to increase its fleet to 13

B.C. driver caught going 207 km/h on motorcycle along Okanagan Highway

A motorcyclist was caught by Kelowna RCMP going 207 km/h on Highway 97C

Protective human chain forms around B.C. mosque for Friday prayer

Vancouver Islanders stand arm-in-arm to show support in aftermath of New Zealand shootings

Motorcyclist dies after three-vehicle crash on old Island Highway

Accident happened at 12:15 p.m. Friday near Country Club Centre in Nanaimo

B.C. fire department offers tips to keep your home safe during wildfire season

With wildfire season getting closer, the Penticton Fire Dept. offer tips to keep your home safe

Most Read