Winnipeg business donates protective gloves after Bear Clan member pricked by used needle

Winnipeg’s Bear Clan Patrol members will be outfitted with puncture resistant gloves after a member was accidentally stuck with a used needle while patrolling the streets in the North End over the weekend.

Urban Tactical donates $8000 worth of puncture-resistant gloves after learning the group only has two pairs.

A total of 100 pairs of these two kinds of puncture-resistant gloves were donated to the Winnipeg Bear Clan patrol by Winnipeg-based outdoor supply store Urban Tactical. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC News)

Winnipeg's Bear Clan Patrol members will be outfitted with puncture resistant gloves after a member was accidentally stuck with a used needle while patrolling the streets in the North End over the weekend.

Urban Tactical, a Winnipeg based outdoor supply store, donated 100 pairs of the safety gloves on Monday after reading about the incident on the group's social media page.

"I'm a little overwhelmed and kind of blown away at the same time," said Bear Clan executive director James Favel.

"I never expected this to come from that post. I just wanted to get the information out there that we are under-resourced and there are things that we need. I didn't expect this kind of response at all."

Urban Tactical's retail director, Keith Ginther said staff at the business became aware of the incident after they were mentioned in the post as a place the safety gloves could be purchased.

"As we read through the thread, we realized that the costs were significantly high for them," said Ginther.

"It's a community organization that's doing a lot of good stuff out there, so it just seems to be a great place to make a donation back to."

Urban Tactical's retail director, Keith Ginther, right, hands Winnipeg Bear Clan executive director James Favel the donation. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

The gloves retail for about $80 to $100 a pair and are made of a special fabric that can help protect against needle punctures.

"It gives you some security that there is some protection between you and that needle," said Ginther, adding that the gloves are not puncture proof, and that precautions still need to be taken.

'I just felt that it was wrong'

While CBC News was at the store, Christy Seniuk came in looking to buy some of the gloves after seeing the Bear Clan's post on social media.

"I'm a nurse practitioner and have dealt with people who have had needle stick injuries even through work, and the post exposure that goes along with that," said Seniuk.

"I would never have the courage to do what they do, walking the street the streets of Winnipeg in high risk situations," she said.

The gloves are puncture resistant, but not puncture proof, so volunteers will still need to take precautions when collecting discarded needles. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC )

"I just felt that it was wrong that they had one pair of gloves."

Seniuk fundraised amongst her friends and raised over $700 — enough to buy seven pairs for the group.

She plans to keep taking donations to help the group further.

Two pairs of gloves, three neighbourhoods

Favel said up until now, the group was operating with one pair of the safety gloves and a pair of textured gloves used for fishing, among dozens of daily volunteers in 3 different neighbourhoods.

"These are the best tools to protect our personnel from a needle poke in the field," said Favel. "We're super excited to have access to them now."

Christy Seniuk, left, raised over $700 from her friends to buy seven pairs of protective gloves for the Bear Clan Patrol. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

The gloves will be distributed to the North End, West End, and West Broadway Bear Clan groups, and should last them a couple of years. Favel is thankful for all of the donations, and even more thankful to the volunteers who put themselves at risk to clean up their neighbourhoods.

"They're the ones who are putting themselves on the line out there. They're the ones who have been doing this without these protections for so long," he said.

4th needle injury

Favel said Bear Clan members pick up an average of 200 needles a day, and this is the fourth time a member has been stuck by a needle in four years.

"It doesn't happen a lot, when you consider we've picked up 45,000 syringes in total since we've started and we've only had four pricks," said Favel.

Favel said the person who was poked over the weekend received medical attention immediately and is doing fine.

"She'll be fine, but it's scary. It's stressful," he said.

The group is now strengthening their protocols around picking up discarded needles but Favel said more can be done to prevent them from building up in the streets in the first place.

He'd like to see plastic sharps containers handed out as part of the needle exchange program.

"I'd rather pick up hundreds of those yellow needle containers, rather than thousands and thousands of those needles."

Urban Tactical donated 100 pairs of puncture resistant gloves after learning the group only has two pairs. 1:59