Selkirk holds 1st public training session in opioid overdose battle

​About two dozen people gathered at a Selkirk clinic Tuesday afternoon to learn how to spot an opioid overdose and administer the life-saving drug Naloxone.

Manitoba Harm Reduction Network trains about 2 dozen people on naloxone kits, spotting an overdose

About two dozen people receive naloxone and overdose-prevention training on Tuesday in Selkirk. (CBC)

​About two dozen people gathered at a Selkirk clinic Tuesday afternoon to learn how to spot an opioid overdose and administer the life-saving drug naloxone.

"It can be a little bit challenging, but the steps are pretty straightforward," said Anlina Sheng, who was co-ordinated the training session.

"One thing we do when we're training is try out using a VanishPoint syringe for the first time, and breaking off an ampule and drawing an ampule for it," Sheng said, adding those are the most difficult and unfamiliar steps for people, especially if they are trying to administer the kit in a panic.

VanishPoint syringes are a type that feature a needle that retracts automatically and reduces the risk of exposure to a contaminated needle, according to the website of the company that makes the syringes.

Participants in the session, which was open to all, were told to look for symptoms including blue lips, small pupils, slow breathing and a rasping or gurgling sound.

They were told when to call 911, when to perform CPR and when to administer naloxone.

Sheng works with the Manitoba Harm Reduction Network as a harm reduction project facilitator. The network partnered with the Interlake-Eastern Regional health Authority to hold the public overdose response training.

The province's take-home naloxone kit program was launched in January, but this is the first time the Interlake region has held a public training session on the drug.
Naloxone kits formerly contained two ampules of the anti-overdose drug. They now contain three. (CBC)

"We ultimately really want to get people who are most at risk for overdose trained and naloxone kits into their hands," said Sheng, who uses the non-gender specific pronoun "they."

"Ideally, I think it would be great to have every service provider, every person who is a family member of a person who uses drugs or a friend of a person who uses drugs trained and knowledgeable on how to respond to an overdose," they said.

Interventions should be focused far earlier than the overdose stage, Sheng said, but the stigma over drug use seems to be preventing that. That stigma, they add, also pushes people who use drugs to take risks and put themselves in dangerous situations.

"When we're intervening as a person is about to die, that's too late. We definitely want to stop people from dying, but we should be intervening far earlier than that," Sheng said.

'When one of us gets out, it's incredible'

Jeannie Red Eagle attended the training Tuesday. Red Eagle, who has lived in Selkirk for 10 years and battled addiction herself, says she's clean now and wants to help others escape drug use.
Jeannie Red Eagle says she went to the training on Tuesday to help other people in her community battling addiction. (CBC)

"When one of us gets out, it's incredible," she said. "One life lost is too many when there's an easy solution."

Public meetings such as Tuesday's are often the first time someone with an addiction will come into a health centre, she says, making them critical for a community that she says wants that type of help.

Sheng says more naloxone public training sessions are planned in the area this fall.

"We will be doing more training, so part of what we're going to be asking people is: Are there other communities that you're a part of that you believe need naloxone training and overdose response training?" they said.

Manitoba Harm Reduction Network trains about 2 dozen people on naloxone kits, spotting an overdose 2:02