Manitoba

'It's very scary right now': Bear Clan Patrol looking to carry fentanyl antidote

The Bear Clan Patrol spends their days and nights walking the streets of Winnipeg and now they want to carry a drug which could save lives.

James Favel says they have seen a stark rise in the amount of syringes on the street

The Bear Clan Patrol is looking to get trained on how to administer naloxone. (CBC)

The Bear Clan Patrol spends their days and nights walking the streets of Winnipeg and now they want to carry a drug which could save lives.

Bear Clan spokesperson James Favel says fentanyl and carfentanil, a synthetic opioid that is 100 times stronger than the highly addictive fentanyl, "scares the life out" of him.

"We are seeing a stark rise in the amount of syringes that we are finding around the community," he said. "The places that we are finding them is not typical either."

Bear Clan Patrol's James Favel says they are finding more syringes on Winnipeg's streets. (CBC)
Syringes used to be found mostly under bridges, in the industrial areas and places where people could "hide away," Favel said. However, now the patrol is finding them at the bell tower gathering area and along busy streets.

"We found two needles loaded with junk on Friday," he said. "There was one week this summer where we found 70 needles."

Favel said the Bear Clan has been in talks with paramedics about how they can get the training that is needed to carry naloxone, which can block or reverse the effects of opiod medications such as fentanyl.

"It's important that we move fast on this. We want to get those things," he said.

"We don't want to be caught out a day late and a dollar short when it comes to people's lives."

From January through to Oct. 28, firefighters and paramedics responded to 1,463 reports of overdoses or poisoning, and 574 people required naloxone, according to the city. In 2015 there were 1,556 calls, a steep rise from the 1,328 the year before. The number of patients receiving naloxone has also increased each year.

"It's very scary right now. I've never seen this much IV drug use and it's destroying lives and destroying people," Favel said.

"It's a great concern to very many of us in the community."

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