Saskatoon

'I saved some lives today': Man uses naloxone to help brother, other man during overdose

When Spring Gagne showed up to a Riversdale basement suite early Monday morning, he found a terrifying scene.

He says the anti-overdose drug should be free

Paramedics respond to a suspected overdose on Avenue G South on Monday, April 2, 2018. (Charles Hamilton/CBC )

When Spring Gagne showed up to a Riversdale basement suite early Monday morning, he found a terrifying scene. 

His brother and another man were both on the floor, apparently overdosing. His brother was drooling, Gagne said. 

Luckily, Gagne had brought his anti-overdose kit containing naloxone with him. 

"I feel like I saved some lives today," Gagne said, just minutes after the two men were taken away by ambulance. 

Gagne said his brother called him early Monday morning and said he was with someone who was overdosing on heroin. Gagne and a friend went to check it out.

Spring Gagne says he potentially saved his brother and another man from an overdose after injecting them with naloxone. (Charles Hamilton/CBC )

He said when he walked in the open door of the suite and saw both men overdosing, he knew what to do. 

"We put [my brother] down on the ground, I pulled down his pants and I gave him naloxone, then I gave the other guy naloxone," Gagne said.

'I carry it because my friends do stupid drugs'

Gagne said he doesn't use opiates or other hard drugs, but has taken to carrying naloxone with him because many people he knows do. 

"Who knows what's in your coke, who knows what that person gives you who's a dealer. How do you know they have that purity or who knows what's in their s--t?" he said. 

"I carry it because my friends do stupid drugs and I don't want to see my friend f--king die."

While naloxone injections won't reverse the effects of an overdose permanently, they have been touted as a way to buy time so someone can get to the hospital for treatment.

In Saskatoon, the kits are available to drug users, their families and friends of people who are at risk. If people can't afford the $30 cost of the prescription, the health authority will cover the cost. 

The Saskatchewan Health Authority offers sessions twice a week in Saskatoon where drug users and their friends and family can receive training on how to use the kits.

Gagne said he gets the naloxone he carries from a friend in Alberta. 

Naloxone should be more readily available: Gagne

Gagne said the naloxone program should be expanded here, given Saskatoon's growing drug problem. 

"It's getting so bad. The epidemic is horrible," he said. "You don't know what you are buying nowadays." 

Since the Take Home Naloxone program launched in Saskatoon in 2015, it has spread to many major centres across the province. The Ministry of Health says more than 500 take-home kits have been used, and more than 1,700 people have received the training.

Last month, three people died after taking what police said was cocaine that contained the lethal opiate fentanyl. 

Maidstone RCMP also recently responded to an incident in which two men died of suspected overdoses.

Police in Weyburn and Kamsack also reported seeing cases in which cocaine had been cut with fentanyl. 

Gagne said his experience should be a warning and a lesson to others. He said everyone who know someone who does drugs should be equipped with naloxone. 

"It's not worth your friend dying," he said. "Get up and do something."

Clarifications

  • A previous version of this story said that naloxone prescriptions were not free in Saskatchewan. In fact, the Saskatchewan Health Authority will cover the cost of the drug if a user is unable to pay.
    Apr 02, 2018 11:27 AM CT