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Health officials help to educate public on naloxone kits in Castlegar

Over 50 people have died from overdoses in West Kootenays over last 10 years
(L to R) Matthew McClelland, Deb McIntosh and Jordan Sherstobitoff. Photo: Connor Trembley

Health officials were outside the Pioneer Arena in Castlegar on Aug. 31 teaching residents how to use a naloxone kit during an emergency.

Naloxone is an injected medication that helps to reverse drug overdoses.

“What we really wanted to do at this event is to continue to help end the stigma that still occurs around these kits,” said Freedom Quest youth services counsellor Matthew McClelland.

“The more the public can be educated on the kits and see how they’re being used, the quicker that’s going to happen.”

One person who helped to demonstrate the kits was Jordan Sherstobitoff, who is an outreach worker and student in Selkirk College’s nursing program.

Sherstobitoff helped to show the public the contents in the kit, how to properly use the kit and how to administer first aid to someone after they’ve been injected with naloxone.

During the demonstrations, Sherstobitoff emphasized that naloxone helps block opioid receptors and brings an individual who has overdosed out of respiratory depression. She also said inside each naloxone kits are instructions on how to keep an individual stable until an ambulance arrives.

If naloxone is unavailable, Sherstobitoff noted that one breath every five seconds can also help provide enough oxygen to a person whose overdosed until help arrives.

Educating the public on naloxone kits is now more important than ever, she said.

“We’re currently dealing with a drug crisis right now, especially since the Canada-U.S. border is closed and we’re not getting the same supply of drugs that we used to,” said Sherstobitoff.

“Nowadays, there’s a lot of fentanyl in everyday drugs and street heroin is now fentanyl. It’s just really dangerous.”

Over 50 people have died from overdoses in Nelson, Castlegar and Trail in the last 10 years alone.

You can pick-up naloxone kits throughout Castlegar at Freedom Quest, at the Mental Health and Substance Use facility in the local health centre or by delivery through the food bank.

The event also took place on International Overdose Awareness Day, which takes place annually and helps to raise awareness of overdoses and reduce the stigma of drug-related deaths.

Community Harvest Food Bank co-ordinator Deb McIntosh said everyone should be educated and be able to easily access a naloxone kit in their community.

“So many people have been revived because of these kits and because people were trained on how to use them,” said McIntosh.

“Carrying these kits should be as common as carrying a first aid kit with you. It just need to be done.”

RELATED STORY: Physicians demand changes to Castlegar lab booking procedures


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