Indications that the province of British Columbia will allow firefighters to carry naloxone, also known as Narcan, is welcome.
The drug is known as the “antidote” to opiate overdose, and can reverse the otherwise deadly effects of ingesting too much heroin and/or fentanyl.
Despite often being first on the scene of overdoses, firefighters, police officers and others who don’t have a required prescription for naloxone have thus far been banned from carrying the drug.
Addressing that is a move that is long overdue, given the stakes involved and the safe nature of Naloxone.
It is available over the counter in more than a dozen U.S. states, and hospitals in Canada have been using the drug for more than four decades.
Earlier this summer, Health Canada promised that it would review the drug’s prescription-only status, although a full process was expected to take more than a year.
Whatever the outcome of that review, the fact that it’s only being done now – after too many deaths from accidental overdoses – shows that our society, and our government institutions, still have much they can do to help those on the fringes who have frequently been overlooked.
Opiate use affects a far greater number of Vancouver Island residents than the casual observer may know.
While the drugs drive some into a life of homelessness and property crime, they are also used by husbands and mothers, sons and daughters, employees and bosses who conduct lives not stereotypically associated with hard drug use.
In cases of overdose, all of those people – those on the fringes, and those in the mainstream – deserve the best shot at life, and the best opportunity at eventually overcoming their addictions.
The quicker the province moves on this initiative, for all emergency responders, the better.