Expect to see more naloxone pop-up tents at summer events
Think of them like a first aid kit, says St. John's volunteer group
As summer festival season heats up across Newfoundland and Labrador, volunteers at pop-up naloxone sites — set up alongside stalls serving french fries and cotton candy — are offering to teach you how to save a life.
If you have a first aid kit you should have a naloxone kit too.- Jenn Smith
At the Mundy Pond Regatta on Sunday, next to booths that advertised popular games like the ring toss and balloon darts, volunteers were teaching crowd members how to administer naloxone in the event of an opioid overdose.
"We're just training as many people as we can because it's not just people who use drugs on a regular basis who are overdosing," said volunteer Jenn Smith.
"It's people like nan who takes a prescription for morphine and forgets she took a pill and she overdoses. We're just kind of saying that if you have a first aid kit you should have a naloxone kit too because nobody is safe from overdose."
It's the second time volunteers have set up a pop-up naloxone tent at an event this summer. They were also at Canada Day celebrations on George Street earlier this month.
When people are given the chance to learn about naloxone, Smith said many of them jump at the opportunity.
"We're getting a variety of people, a lot of people saying, 'I have friends who use drugs,' or someone who's saying 'I heard about this on the news.'"
Tree Walsh, of the Safe Works Access Program (SWAP), said the pop-up tents are a partnership between SWAP, community groups, the city of St. John's and the provincial government.
Overdose could be medication mix-up
Originally, the idea for the pop-up tents came from Health Minister John Haggie, she said, and is a way to remove the stigma around overdoses and make people more comfortable talking about them.
"An opioid overdose can happen for a number of reasons — sometimes it's accidental, simply because a person has taken their meds that they've already taken and forgot about. So it can be as simple as a mistake like that."
- Choices for Youth taking steps to prevent fentanyl overdose deaths
- SWAP working with George Street bars, others to distribute naloxone kits
The pop-up tents started on July 1 at the George Street Canada Day celebrations, where Walsh said they gave out 27 kits. At the Mundy Pond Regatta, 22 kits were handed out.
Walsh said the kits should help families dealing with drug users, and while she knows about other plans for St. John's pop-up tents, she's not sure what groups are organizing outside the city.
The pop-up tents will be at the Shea Heights community celebration, and Walsh is also hoping to have them at the Royal St. John's Regatta at Quidi Vidi Lake, as well as the Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival at Bannerman Park.