Calgary firefighters administer naloxone daily, says chief
Since getting kits mid-December, firefighters have used naloxone 45 times on fentanyl overdoses
In the month and a half since naxolone became part of every Calgary fire truck's kit, the drug has been administered to patients 45 times.
That's an average of once per day.
Fire chief Steve Dongworth told city councillors on Wednesday he's glad firefighters have the life-saving drug, as they are often on the scene before EMS crews arrive.
"When I look at what's happening in Vancouver right now, we're nowhere close to the kind of frequency of administering naloxone or coming into contact with patients who have overdosed on opioids," he said.
"But obviously when you look at the number of deaths in Alberta, it's fairly significant, the number of deaths in Calgary, very significant again and I think we're going to see this as a continuing trend."
According to Alberta Health, from January to September 2016, 338 Albertans died from an apparent drug overdose related to fentanyl or another opioid — 193 of these deaths were related to fentanyl.
Calgary saw 82 suspected fentanyl overdose deaths.
'Challenging the whole community'
Naloxone is a drug that can temporarily reverse an overdose of fentanyl or other opioids, allowing the patient to get emergency medical help.
Dongworth said all firefighters have been trained on its proper use.
"That's partially my ignorance about just how big a crisis this is," he said. "This is the whole issue of opioids and overdoses for whatever reason — whether it's the economy or the emergence of a new drug of choice — is certainly challenging the whole community."
"We're just part of that community and we've reacted to what we're seeing out there at incidents."
The initial supply of the drug cost the department $20,000, which it could cover in its budget.
With files from Scott Dippel