Windsor

LaSalle police officers haven't used naloxone once since kits became mandatory in 2017

LaSalle police officers haven't had the need to administer naloxone during an overdose once since the force mandated that all officers carry kits in 2017.

'It's just nice to have this tool to try to save someone's life'

While naloxone is used to treat opioid overdoses, individuals experiencing an overdose should still seek medical assistance. (Paula Gale/CBC)

LaSalle police officers haven't administered naloxone once since the force mandated that officers of all ranks carry kits in 2017.

Still, the force's community and corporate affairs officer Terry Seguin supported officers carrying naloxone kits, saying it's important for officers to be able to "save another person's life who may be experiencing an overdose."

Seguin explained that the force first implemented the kits "for our own selfish reasons," out of fear that officers might accidentally overdose while handling unknown substances.

"We run into people all the time that are drug users and through the course of our duties from time to time, we do searches and we may come into contact with the substance that they may be carrying, and it's very possible that our officers begin to overdose just from simply touching the substance unknowingly, because it's often smaller than the size of a grain of salt and that's enough to cause a person to begin to overdose if you're not a user," Seguin said. 

'Those precious seconds count'

However, Seguin said LaSalle police chief John Leontowicz decided to mandate naloxone kits across the force because he determined officers "should be trying to preserve all life."

"With these kits available to us and with each officer carrying it, we may be the first on scene, we may be there before ambulance, we may be there before anyone else and those precious seconds count," said Seguin. "If we can administer that naloxone or Narcan, which is the same product, than it may give that person a fighting chance to recover."

Naloxone, which is administered as a nasal spray, is an opioid antagonist that temporarily prevent opioids from connecting with receptors in the body.

While naloxone should be administered in the event of an overdose, Seguin explained that speedy medical attention is still necessary to prevent death. 

"Once that naloxone dissipates inside the body or the Narcan dissipates inside the body off that chemical receptor, the opioid returns to the chemical receptor and then the overdose continues," Seguin said. "And then you can continue to experience the overdose and potentially pass away. So that's why you need to seek medical assistance after you've used naloxone."

There are no known adverse effects to administering naloxone.

[Officers] should be trying to preserve all life.- Terry Seguin, LaSalle Police Service

"So if you aren't experiencing an actual drug overdose or if it's mistaken that you're experiencing a drug overdose, there's no adverse side effects to administering this nasal spray," Seguin said. 

Though LaSalle police haven't yet administered naloxone, Seguin said he wouldn't be naive enough to suggest that opioid addiction isn't a concern in LaSalle. 

Windsor police not carrying naloxone

While LaSalle police carry naloxone, leaders of Windsor police — including former police chief Al Frederick — have been hesitant to mandate that officers in the Rose City carry the anti-opioid drug. 

While speaking with reporters in late October, recently-appointed police chief Pam Mizuno said she wouldn't revise her predecessor's policy on naloxone kits.

However, she said she's "not slamming the door" on the idea of officers under her command carrying naloxone kits.

According to numbers released by Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), "the majority of opioid-related overdoses occurred in OPP's Central and West Regions."

Essex County falls under the OPP's West region.

In a Monday media release, OPP said officers have "saved 102 lives using naloxone, since frontline officers began carrying it in September 2017."

Between September 2017 and November 2019, 66 per cent of naloxone recipients were male. The average age of male naloxone recipients is 32, while the average age of female naloxone recipients is 31.5.

"There was a 121 per cent increase in overdose occurrences attended by the OPP from 2016 to 2018," reads an excerpt from the same media release. 

With files from Jason Viau

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.