Ottawa firefighters certified to administer naloxone

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There are at least two firefighters on every truck in every urban Ottawa fire station trained in administering naloxone, a powerful antidote for opioid overdoses, and training will continue until all firefighters in all 45 stations can administer the drug.

“Two years ago the most recent statistics showed we had approximately 45 people died by overdose in the city of Ottawa,” Mayor Jim Watson said Tuesday during a joint announcement with Ottawa Fire Chief Gerry Pingitore at Station 36.

Last month Pingitore said that naloxone kits and training would be rolled out across the department by the end of June.

A provincial website launched in May shows fentanyl overtook all other opioids to become Ottawa’s deadliest drug in 2015. Fentanyl, used to treat the severe pain of cancer or surgery, has been available on Ottawa streets for years in the form of tablets and patches.

But it has more recently become available in a powdered form made in clandestine labs. Thirty to 50 times more powerful than heroin, it’s sometimes sold as heroin since it’s cheaper and easier to manufacture.

The Ontario government has come under fire in the past for failing to track in real-time the opioid crisis as it unfolds in living rooms and emergency rooms across the province.

Watson said he would deliver a more detailed report in council on Wednesday on further initiatives the city and the province are taking to deal with the opioid crisis.

“This (the naloxone certification and kits) working in conjunction with our paramedic partners will be another tool for us to provide a better service to our citizens,” Pingitore said.

Firefighters at Ottawa fire station 36 were being trained to administer naloxone right before the Tuesday news conference. The training takes three hours to complete.

“This is the first time as firefighters we can administer (a controlled medication),” said Shawn Thompson, firefighter and para-trainer. “That’s why it’s really a big deal.”

By Olivia Blackmore
Source: Ottawa Citizen