Calgary

Blood Tribe enacts state of emergency over drug-related deaths

The Blood Tribe is sounding the alarm on a street drug containing fentanyl — a narcotic that can be lethal in small doses — that may be responsible for at least 10 deaths in the community.

Chief and council securing medication to counter effects of opioid overdoses

Blood Tribe police believe organized crime groups are pushing fake Oxycodone pills on the southern Alberta First Nation. (CBC)

An illegal drug infiltrating the Blood Tribe in southern Alberta has prompted community leaders to call a state of emergency.

At least 10 deaths on the First Nation have been linked to the street drug Oxy 80, or fake Oxycodone. The pill contains fentanyl — a potent opioid​-based pain killer that has a high risk of overdose.

"It was a concern from not only our local physician, but also our community in general, " said Lance Tailfeathers who sits on the band's council. "It was actually public outcry."

It's believed organized crime groups are pushing Oxy 80 in the area. The Blood Tribe has recently dedicated two full-time officers to drug and gang related investigations, officials say.

Lance Tailfeathers is the chair for the Blood Tribe's health advisory committee. (www.bloodtribe.org)

The chief and council passed a resolution on Friday declaring a local state of emergency to draw attention to the situation and bring more services and support to the community, Tailfeathers said. 

Council has already secured 47 kits containing Naloxone — a medication used to counter Oxy 80 overdoses.

"There's a five-minute window to administer it, but you still have to get the person medical attention within about an hour," said Tailfeathers.

The First Nation plans to hand out the Naloxone kits strategically to families and patients in the community and eventually to schools.

A tip line — oxy@bloodtribepolice.com — has been set up for reserve residents get information to police anonymously.

"These efforts have resulted in numerous charges and significant disruption of drug activity in the past two months," Blood Tribe police officials said in a release.

Band council is meeting with the Alberta Emergency Management Agency and the First Nations Inuit and Health Branch on Monday to discuss the next steps.

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