In an effort to reduce the number of accidental opioid overdoses, Vancouver police officers and support staff will soon be armed with nasal Naloxone.
Doctor Mark Lysyshyn of Vancouver Coastal Health says it would happen most often during drug busts.
“There could be fentanyl that’s present in the air that they could inhale, or there could be fentanyl on substances that they could touch and absorb through their skin,” says Lysyshyn.
President of the Vancouver Police Union Tom Stamatakis seconds that.
“Our officers typically work in uncontrolled environments, and where the exposures happen it’s typically an unexpected situation where somebody’s trying to dispose of something or the drugs are in powder form, for example, and they get blown around and the officer is exposed, either inadvertently inhaling or absorbing through their skin,” says Stamatakis.
“It happens often, and usually we don’t see drugs that can have that kind of impact that quickly, but obviously this particular drug does.”
Stamatakis says handing out naloxone to officers is a necessary precaution a small amount of fentanyl can do a lot of damage, something Lysyshyn agrees with.
“Fentanyl is very toxic and it does put people at high risk of overdose,” says Lysyshyn, who explains there’s no way to tell how much fentanyl, if any, is in any given drug.
“Very few people are probably coming into contact with pure fentanyl because what’s being sold on the street is fentanyl mixed with other adulterants to make various powders that look like heroin or pressed into tablets that look like oxycontin with binders and other things.”
The move to add naloxone nasal spray to officers’ utility belts comes after three officers in BC came into contact with the powerful opioid and accidentally overdosed.