In early April 2017 the senior member of the local RCMP detachment, Sgt. Fenske, gave a talk to the Downtown Business Association regarding the homeless, opiod use and petty crime in the downtown area.
Sgt. Fenske addressed such questions as ‘Are the homeless from elsewhere’. He pointed out the reality of dealing with people who have mental health concerns in addition to being homeless. And what the community can expect police from the police.
It’s not a large detachment and round the clock policing everywhere for every little thing is not a realistic picture. Listen to his words on what the police can do and what they cannot and will not and under what conditions. And the advice on how your business can safely function within this context.
Opiods and Fentanyl
One of the items that he talked about was the rise of Fentanyl in the drugs being used. That impacts not only those abusing the drugs but those who might come into contact with them. Fentanyl is an extremely potent and toxic substance – so much so that even touching it can cause absorption and consequences. Which means if a non-drug user comes into casual physical contact with it, say as a powder spilled on clothing, they can be in danger.
This can happen during touch such as trying to assist someone who has collapsed on or near your premises. The advice in this case is to consider having the opioid antidote Naloxone (also called Narcan) available on premises in the off chance this happens. It’s not only the drug abuser who is at risk but also an employee or customer of your business.
Naloxone was removed from the prescription-only list of medicines last year as a response to the growing opiod crisis. It is not a drug that gives you a high – it is a life saving antidote to an overdose. Sgt. Fenske also pointed out that Naloxone is available in a spray form – he showed the container he and other officers carry as standard equipment now.
After the talk I visited the pharmacies in town and only the one at Overwaitea had any Naloxone available and then only the injectable version. This requires a small amount of training to use properly and does require touching the person who has overdosed to the kit comes with gloves. The spray version is much easier and safer to use – as long as they are breathing all you have to do is spray it into their nostrils.
Just yesterday (July 5) the spray version has become available in Canada.
Health Canada posted a notice regarding this on June 30th (http://www.healthycanadians.gc.ca/recall-alert-rappel-avis/hc-sc/2017/63784a-eng.php) and the CBC has an article regarding it here http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/naloxone-nasal-spray-1.3789643
An earlier (Feb) CBC piece (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/costly-naloxone-nasal-spray-1.3675243) pointed out that the cost for the nasal spray was between $60 and $120 – hopefully that will drop as the access frees up. But when you consider it in the context of saving a life then it doesn’t seem like that much. A business (or business community) considering having a portable defibrillator faces a much greater cost (in the thousands) but many don’t see that as an impediment.