As a result of the ongoing opioid crisis in B.C., naloxone training was held outside Nechako Valley Secondary School Tuesday, Feb. 16.
Melanie Labatch, a registered nurse working in Fort St. James is organizing these training sessions with funding secured by Vanderhoof’s Good Neighbours Committee.
With some brownies and bannock in her hand, she is going to different municipalities including Fort St. James, Vanderhoof, Tl’azt’en First Nation and area, to talk about the opioid crisis, whilst teaching participants how to safely administer a dose of naloxone.
She is also supplying education and naloxone kits to high-risk sites, where drugs are being sold or consumed.
“Every single person is valuable and worthy and nobody every chooses to be in a situation where they are a drug addict, but they get there because of trauma and experiences, and not enough support. Ultimately, we are the ones who make all our own choices, and we heal ourselves. But we need that support,” Labatch said.
In B.C., almost five people lost their lives a day to overdose in 2020, totalling close to 1,716 over the year. Labatch said the number is disconcerting and she believes everyone needs to do their part in caring for others. She also said she knows five people on the top of her head who died due to an overdose since last year.
Due to the ongoing pandemic, the opioid crisis has gotten worse and people have been isolating. For drug users, there is no safe supply, Labatch said, adding it’s lonely.
Meanwhile, in her presentation outside the local high school, Labatch introduced participants to a new form of administering naloxone via a nasal spray. The nasal spray was introduced to make it easier to administer the drug, however, there are only two doses available in the kit.
Ideally, Labatch said people should have the nasal spray along with the injectable kit as there can be situations where more than two doses are needed. There is also a thorough instructions guide on how to administer the dose within the naloxone kit.
When asked what the situation in Vanderhoof and surrounding areas is when it comes to the opioid crisis, the nurse narrated a story.
“We did some training outside an elementary school in Vanderhoof, and there was a staff member who couldn’t stay. The very next day, she was driving to work and stopped at 7-eleven to gas up at 8 a.m. This car pulls up and the driver yells ‘he is not breathing’.”
“She goes over there, opens the passenger door and the person was grey. So she put him on the ground and starts performing CPR. Meanwhile, they called the ambulance, and paramedics administered naloxone once they arrived.”
The teacher returned to school and felt bad for missing the training session, Labatch said, adding she went back to the school to go through the training with the teacher to put her at ease. “What are the chances for that happening? So yes, its good to be prepared,” she said.
“It does touch us. It’s not just them, it’s all of us. We just have to do whatever we can and that’s called living harm reduction. That’s why we give people a snack. The last time we did this session in the parking lot of the Co-op mall, people sat there and told us their stories. That’s what we need. We need to be able to be seen.”
“People need to know that – we see you, and you matter,” she added.
Naloxone kits are available free of charge at any local pharmacy, and the pharmacist will show you how to administer a dose as well.