Police arm themselves with overdose antidote

Inspector Jonathan Bergen of the Prince Albert Police Service holds a box of naloxone, and the nasal administration system.

Local police and firefighters are now carrying an antidote to narcotic overdoses, after receiving training from the experts at Access Place.

The antidote is naloxone, a drug that blocks the action of opioids like fentanyl, morphine and heroin. Access Place, the health region’s harm reduction centre, has been handing out naloxone kits since January, as a way to help drug users stop an overdose in its tracks.

Now, first responders will be ready to jump in and help – even before paramedics get to the scene. Over the past month, twenty-five police officers have crossed 15 Street to join their brothers in red at the fire hall, where Access Place staff showed the group how to administer naloxone as a nasal spray.

“It’s part of a harm reduction strategy,” said health region Vice President Brett Enns. “This is about trying to get to people as soon as possible in order to potentially save lives.”

He said drug overdoses are a “weekly occurrence” in Prince Albert, mostly from drugs like dilaudid and hydromorphone. And the scourge of fentanyl, a drug he called more than 50 times as powerful as heroin, has the region on guard.

For more on this story, see the March 31 print or e-edition of the Daily Herald.