Former Vancouver Park Commissioner Sarah Blyth says she understands more than ever the need for the opiate-antidote Naxolone or Narcan after she saved a life by using the drug on someone in the Downtown Eastside.

Blyth works as a social housing coordinator and ran to help when she heard someone was dying on the street. She grabbed her Narcan kit, which she had recently been trained to use and rushed out the door to join the group of nurses and police officers also helping.

"I've been trained by a nurse, so I knew that it's my job to help people and also, when you hear someone's dying, you just run to help. I was able to use that skill I had learned."

"Intense and stressful"

Other healthcare workers were already giving the person lying on the ground oxygen when Blyth arrived on the scene. It looked like a case of overdose.

"I said, do you need help with the Narcan and they said yes. So I just did what I remembered to do and what I was trained to do," said Blyth.

"It was a real team effort. Obviously it was pretty intense and stressful."

Naloxone

Blyth says the drug is especially important today given the number of fentanyl-related deaths.

"I think all first responders should have access to it at this point."

Naloxone  works by counteracting opioid depression of the central nervous system which, in an overdose situation, can slow or stop a person's breathing.

Take-home kits of the opioid-antidote Naloxone, or Narcan, are available in B.C. by prescription. Healthcare workers and others in the Downtown Eastside, like Blyth, are being trained to administer the drug.

Narcan is currently administered by injection in Canada but Blyth says it's time to look at using a nasal spray version instead, a product the FDA approved  in November 2015.


To listen to the full audio, click the link labelled: Former Vancouver Park Board Commissioner Sarah Blyth on saving a life using Narcan.