Vancouver Island pharmacist saves overdose victim’s life

Quick thinking by London Drugs staff

  • Nov. 1, 2018 9:30 a.m.

A Vancouver Island pharmacist has been credited with saving the life of an overdose victim.

The effectiveness of naloxone as an important tool in the fight against B.C.’s opioid epidemic has been well documented. Courtenay London Drugs pharmacy manager Tara Oxford experienced firsthand the life-saving power recently, after personally administering a naloxone shot to a customer who had overdosed inside the store.

“I just knew what I needed to do,” says Oxford, recalling the incident that took place in early October. “There was no judgment, I just thought, ‘This is the drug that is going to save his life.’ The situation was very intense, but it was very calm. Everybody had a very good understanding of what they needed to do.”

A typical workday at the Driftwood Mall outlet took a turn when a 24-year-old man asked to use the store’s public washroom and never reappeared. After about 40 minutes, and repeated failed attempts by staff to get his attention, store manager Adam Fraser opened the door with an emergency key, where the man was found slumped over on the toilet seat and unresponsive. Surrounded by drug paraphernalia, the man was pale blue and barely breathing.

RELATED: One-third of Canada’s overdose deaths happen in BC

London Drugs staff immediately jumped into crisis mode, calling 9-1-1, cordoning off the area, performing CPR and notifying Oxford to administer a naloxone injection. After gathering her supplies and running to the scene to inject the life-saving drug, Oxford recalls how quickly the medicine took effect.

“I gave the shot, and his colour came back pretty quickly,” she said. “He started to come around and by the time paramedics arrived and gave him some oxygen, he had turned pink again and walked straight on to the stretcher. It was absolutely incredible.”

VIDEO: How to use a naloxone kit

After receiving treatment at North Island Hospital, the young man was released and later came back to London Drugs that evening to thank staff for saving his life and allowing him to spend Thanksgiving with his family, Oxford said.

Oxford is intimately involved with the take-home naloxone kit campaign. She is a board member of the College of Pharmacists of BC, which had a hand in implementing the drug’s de-scheduling for emergency use in 2016.

That said, this was her first time administering the drug in a real-life situation.

“You see so much in the media about overdoses, but you rarely hear stories about people being saved,” Oxford said. “I think it’s important for people to know how effective [naloxone] is.”

Just Posted

Road rescue near Sayward points to volunteer need

Fire department recruits can be tough for small, remote communities

Quadra hikers found after two days in the wild

Two women did not return from what was supposed to be an hour-long walk Wednesday

Hunter who saved man pinned inside smashed truck says ‘God was sending me to him’

Sayward man describes chance discovery of Duncan Moffat, 23, in North Island woods

Man arrested in Campbell River following alleged getaway attempt

Suspect faces charges including dangerous driving; drug investigation ongoing

New Coast Guard radar boosts marine traffic monitoring off B.C. coast

Six radar installations set up for Georgia Strait to Queen Charlotte Strait to Prince Rupert

Saving salmon: B.C. business man believes hatcheries can help bring back the fish

Tony Allard worked with a central coast First Nation to enhance salmon stocks

B.C. asking for tips on ‘dirty money’ in horse racing, real estate, luxury cars

Action follows a Peter German report on money laundering in B.C. casinos

Canadian dead more than a week after plane crash in Guyana: Global Affairs

Global Affairs said it couldn’t provide further details on the identity of the Canadian citizen

Children between 6 and 9 eligible for $1,200 RESP grant from province

BC Ministry of Education is reminding residents to apply before the deadline

Victoria spent $30,000 to remove John A. Macdonald statue

Contentious decision sparked controversy, apology from mayor

Privacy concerns over credit card use for legal online pot purchases

Worries follow privacy breaches at some Canadian cannabis retailers

NEB approves operating pressure increase to repaired Enbridge pipeline

The pipeline burst outside of Prince George on Oct. 9, now operating at 85 per cent

B.C. VIEWS: Setting speed limits in a post-fact political environment

Media prefer ‘speed kills’ narrative, even when it fails to appear

Controversy erupts over Japanese flag in B.C. classroom (updated)

Online petition demanding removal has collected more than 5,700 signatures

Most Read