Nova Scotia

Cape Breton police order 250 naloxone kits amid fentanyl crisis

The Cape Breton Regional Police Service is taking steps to protect its front-line workers from exposure to fentanyl.

Naloxone can temporarily reverse the effects of an overdose from opioid drugs

The Cape Breton Regional Police Service ordered 250 nasal spray kits and it cost the force about $15,000. (Holly Conners/CBC)

The Cape Breton Regional Police Service recently ordered 250 naloxone kits — one for each of its officers and jailers — as one measure to protect its workers from exposure to fentanyl.

Naloxone can temporarily reverse the effects of an overdose from opioid drugs, including fentanyl, which has been responsible for hundreds of deaths across Canada.

While the Cape Breton Regional Municipality has not yet seen a major influx of fentanyl, police are sure it's on its way.

1 confirmed fentanyl overdose in CBRM

​"There's probably been some form of it come back from out west. We have a large population of people that travel out west for work and come back. So we do think that there has been some here," said Staff Sgt. Paul Muise, one of two senior officers taking the lead on fentanyl for the police service.

Muise said he's been told there has already been one confirmed overdose death in the area as a result of fentanyl.

Safety for first responders

When it comes to fentanyl, the safety of first responders such as police and EHS is a major concern given that as little as two milligrams of the drug can kill a person, said Muise.

"There have been exposures to front-line personnel across this country already. You could just handle somebody's drivers licence that maybe have handled fentanyl and become exposed. And this has happened. So if our officers become exposed we want to be able to administer the naloxone immediately."

That will be made easier by the type of naloxone kits the police service has ordered — it opted to go with nasal spray kits, rather than the less expensive needle injection kits that were distributed to opioid users in CBRM and Halifax earlier this year as part of a pilot project.

$250 kits cost police force $15K

"We're going to go with something that's simpler because, let's face it, some officers are not going to want to inject themselves," said Muise.  

"We are going to train the officers, but it will be a lot simpler again if they just were able to pull this out of their pocket and spray it up their nose, and that's going to save them from going into an overdose or having any symptoms from fentanyl."

The order of approximately 250 nasal spray kits cost the force about $15,000.

It's expected to arrive in a matter of days, and the goal is to have officers carrying them as soon as possible.

About the Author

Holly Conners is a reporter and current affairs producer who has been with CBC Cape Breton since 1998. Contact her at holly.conners@cbc.ca.