November 8, 2016

Cranbrook, BC (November 8, 2016) -- Cranbrook Fire & Emergency Services is in the process of bringing a new service to the citizens of Cranbrook that addresses the public health emergency in BC related to opioid overdoses.  Firefighters are currently completing training, in conjunction with BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) in order to be able to administer ‘Narcan’ to suspect opioid overdose patients. 

Opioid drugs such as morphine, heroin, methadone, oxycodone, and fentanyl cause harm in overdose because they affect the receptors in the brain that control breathing and cause the patient to stop breathing.  Within minutes of stopping breathing the patient will go into cardiac arrest. 

“Narcan, or naloxone counter-acts the opioid drug and restores normal breathing and consciousness levels in patients,” says Scott Driver, Deputy Director of Cranbrook Fire & Emergency Services.  “We feel it’s the right thing to do for our citizens, as overdoses have a very significant impact on our customers and their families”.

Responders are being taught how to recognize opiate overdose and respond appropriately.  As Naloxone administration must be accompanied by additional first aid measures, staff training is critical in ensuring that patients are given the highest chance of survival.  These skills are intended to supplement the care provided by BC Ambulance Service, or to stabilize the patient until their arrival.

In 2015, there were 476 recorded deaths due to opioid overdose in BC, and 488 deaths from January to August of 2016. It is projected at these rates the death toll in BC may be 800 by years end.  The Cranbrook Fire Department is determined to do what it can in order to lessen the impact of opioid overdoses in our community, and is happy to provide this service to our customers starting later this week.

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