Nfld. & Labrador

SWAP working with George Street bars, others to distribute naloxone kits

With fentanyl concerns sweeping across the St. John's, George Street is joining the fight against the deadly opioid.

'They are concerned people will drop dead inside their premises,' says SWAP coordinator

George Street has joined the fight to reverse opioid overdoses, according to SWAP coordinator Tree Walsh. (RNC photo)

With fentanyl concerns sweeping across St. John's, George Street is joining the fight against the deadly opioid.

Tree Walsh, of the Safe Works Access Program, said her organization is working with the George Street Association to make sure bars are equipped to save lives in case of an overdose.

"We started receiving calls from bar owners as soon as the problem became real… as soon as people began to die," she said. "They are concerned people will drop dead inside their premises."

Tree Walsh, a harm reduction advocate and coordinator with SWAP, is trying to get naloxone kits to as many people as possible. (Eddy Kennedy/CBC)

Walsh is encouraging all bar owners, not just those associated with the George Street Association, to be prepared.

SWAP is working with bars not just on distributing the kits, but also training employees on how to use them properly.

Working with as many groups as possible

On Thursday morning, Walsh met with a group at the St. John's Women's Centre to give a talk on naloxone.

The session was well attended with people concerned for the well-being of friends, family or strangers. In the end, 12 people took naloxone kits home with them.

The kits, which contain two vials of the overdose-reversing drug, are becoming increasingly available across the province.

"It's the future of our first aid kits," Walsh told CBC's On the Go.

How to use naloxone in case of an overdose

5 years ago
Duration 4:27
Karen Singleton of Eastern Health walks through how to use a naloxone kit, in the wake of more than a dozen overdoses on the northeast Avalon

The kits can be used for overdoses related to drugs such as fentanyl, oxycontin, percocet, codeine and more.

The province is launching a naloxone awareness campaign with internet and newspaper ads, as well as leaflets and wallet cards with information on the kits and where to find them.

"It's to try to get to a community that might be very isolated and very marginalized," Health Minister John Haggie told CBC News this week.

Haggie said 21 people have been saved by naloxone since an outbreak of opioid overdoses began in April.

With files from On the Go