Manitoba

Bar staff trained to stop fentanyl overdoses

A couple of Winnipeg bars are now trained to stop a fentanyl overdose in its tracks.

Good Will, Handsome Daughter workers learn how to watch for signs, administer naloxone

The Good Will Social Club on Portage Avenue has trained its staff on how to administer naloxone. (Stefanie Lasuik/CBC)

A couple of Winnipeg bars are now trained to stop a fentanyl overdose in its tracks. 

Staff at The Good Will Social Club spent Monday afternoon learning how to use a naloxone antidote kit and be ready in the event that someone has a fentanyl overdose at the venue. 

"It sounds like these drugs are showing up in all sorts of places that people wouldn't expect. If it does happen we need to be prepared," said Tim Hoover, one of the owners of The Good Will.

So far, no one has suffered a fentanyl overdose at the bar, Hoover said, but he wants his staff to know what to look for and feel comfortable using a kit on someone at the drop of a hat.

"We have an obligation to keep our customers safe," said Hoover.

The number of deaths linked to the powerful opioid fentanyl is one of the reasons why Hoover encouraged all of his staff to take part. The kits mitigate the deadly risks associated with the drug and can ultimately reverse the effects and can save a person's life.

Aside from learning how to use the kit, the group was also briefed on the powerful effects the drugs can have on someone who uses them. Hoover was shocked to learn just how potent it is. 

"Even a small amount cut into some other drug can cause an overdose. So that was really eye-opening," he said.

Fentanyl is estimated to be 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more powerful than morphine, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

'No-brainer' to use it

Hoover was also surprised to learn that if the kit is used on someone who isn't overdosing, nothing serious will happen.

"It's kind of a no-brainer of us to have them. Because if there is an overdose it can save lives. If there isn't, we won't cause any harm. It's a win-win," says Hoover.

The training was run by Street Connections, a local group that offers naloxone kits as well as counselling services. 

The Good Will's head of security, John Yim, hopes establishments all across Winnipeg will get the training. 

"I think anywhere that serves alcohol and people are involved in a social environment where they might be using recreational drugs, it's important their staff gets this training." says Yim.

Staff at the Handsome Daughter, a restaurant and bar located on Sherbook Street, also received training Monday. 

Jason Evaristo says seven people have been trained so far, and the rest will take part in a separate session next week. They all signed up voluntarily, he said. 

"Hopefully, god willing, it will never happen, but I'd rather be prepared than caught in a situation that we didn't know what to handle," says Evaristo. "It's better to be safe than sorry, if we do run into that problem here."

Among 24 opioid-related deaths so far this year, the province says fentanyl was deemed to be a primary cause or contributing factor in nine.

The effects of fentanyl range from pleasure to death. This video breaks down exactly what the drug does to your brain. 1:47

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story said fentanyl was 80 times more potent than morphine.
    Dec 06, 2016 7:34 PM CT