Kim Toombs, harm reduction counsellor with AIDS Vancouver Island, demonstrates how to inject narcan during a naloxone training session at the organization’s new health clinic on Jacklin Road in Langford. (Kendra Wong/News Gazette staff)

Kim Toombs, harm reduction counsellor with AIDS Vancouver Island, demonstrates how to inject narcan during a naloxone training session at the organization’s new health clinic on Jacklin Road in Langford. (Kendra Wong/News Gazette staff)

Wide range of Greater Victoria residents taking on naloxone training

Counsellor has trained software developers, baristas, barbers and more

Sitting in a brightly lit room next to four strangers at AIDS Vancouver Island’s newest health clinic on Jacklin Road, a number of supplies sit scattered on the table.

There are syringes, three vials, a face shield and blue gloves – all supplies participants hope they’ll never have to use, but must be prepared to utilize in a life-and-death situation.

The supplies are part of a small black naloxone kit distributed by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control’s Take Home Naloxone program to administer should someone overdose, and were free during a training session at the health clinic last week.

But to say injecting naloxone (AKA narcan, a temporary opioid blocker) is easy, would be an overstatement.

There’s a checklist of things to run through in one’s mind to keep someone who is overdosing alive – at least long enough for paramedics to get there – and is a skill many people are becoming familiar with.

“In light of what’s going on and the [opiod] crisis, it’s really great for people to know. It helps break down the stigma associated with drug use, overdose and fentanyl, and helps people think about it in a different context,” said Kim Toombs, a harm reduction counsellor with AIDS Vancouver Island who runs on-demand naloxone training sessions around Greater Victoria. “If you run into the situation, you want to have the tools. You want to know how to respond.”

RELATED: B.C. overdose deaths surpass 1,200

Toombs said the number of people taking naloxone training from all walks of life has increased significantly in the last few years, and it’s not hard to see why.

According to the B.C. Coroners Service, more than 1,200 people have died from illicit drug overdoses so far this year in the province, with the highest rates in Vancouver, Surrey and Victoria. In 2017, there have been 198 illicit drug overdoses on Vancouver Island between January and October.

Eighty-seven per cent of illicit drug overdose deaths occurred inside in private residences or other locations, and 12 per cent occurred outside in vehicles, sidewalks, streets or park.

Even in Greater Victoria, Toombs has trained software developers who see people overdose in backalleys, bar staff and security companies, as well as bakery staff and coffee shop employees who could find people overdosing in washrooms.

“It’s much more broad, people in general want to get trained. They could have no connection to it but they want to get trained,” said Toombs, who has had to administer naloxone countless times and noted practice is the important.

RELATED: New health care centre provides therapy to opioid users

The key to responding to an overdose is the acronym, SAVE ME, which stands for stimulate, airway, ventilate, evaluate, muscular injection and evaluate. The first step is checking to see if the person is responsive, by calling their name or moving their foot. If they are unresponsive to pain and are not breathing, they could be suffering an overdose, at which point 911 should be called.

The most important step, said Toombs, is breathing for someone through the face shield, which could be more effective than the naloxone itself. During an overdose, the brain forgets to fire the signals for a person to breathe, which can cause brain damage and increase the risk of cardiac arrest.

First do a sweep of the mouth to ensure there is nothing blocking their airway. Then insert the face shield and begin breathing into their mouth – one breath of air for every five seconds for the next 30 seconds for the entire process.

If they are still not breathing, next comes the naloxone injection which must be inserted into their thigh, buttock or deltoid (the uppermost part of the arm). The drug takes about three to five minutes to kick in, during which time you should continue to breathe for that person through the face shield while preparing the next dose for injection.

Finally, check to see if there is any change. If not, another injection could be necessary, said Toombs, noting she’s had to administer naloxone as many as three to four times before there is a change.

Another important aspect is interacting with someone once they wake up. Toombs said compassion is key and will go a long way, especially when the person may feel embarassed, confused or angry about overdosing.

To gets hands-on experience at a naloxone training session in the West Shore, go to Island Health’s public health unit on Wale Road or visit towardtheheart.com and search for training in any B.C. community. People can also complete new training online and on their mobile device at naloxonetraining.com.

kendra.wong@goldstream

gazette.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The B.C. Supreme Court ruled Feb. 26 that the estate of deceased Sooke man and Hells Angels prospect Michael Widner is to be divided between his wife and his secret spouse. (Black Press Media file photo)
Estate of deceased Hells Angels prospect from Sooke to be divided between wife and secret spouse

Michael Widner’s 2017 death left a number of unanswered questions

Sooke resident Nathan Hanson popped both his driver’s side tires on a pothole near a construction site on Sooke Road. Hanson said he was following a line of traffic and was just before the 17 Mile Pub when he drove over the pothole. (Photo contributed/Nathan Hanson)
Driver blows two tires on pothole near construction site on Sooke Road

Ministry of Transportation says keeping highways in good condition a priority

On Feb. 27, a construction vehicle remained on the site of the former encampment between the Pat Bay Highway and McKenzie Avenue as part a clean-up effort. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Encampment between Pat Bay Highway, McKenzie Avenue cleared, all residents relocated

Efforts to disband encampment resumed after January fire

E:Ne Raw Food and Sake Bar is closing its doors until further notice after sexual assault allegations against an employee surfaced on social media. (Google Streetview)
Sexual assault allegations temporarily closing a second Victoria restaurant

Social media posts accuse an E:Ne Raw Food and Sake Bar employee of sexual assault

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

Shiromali Krishnaraj arrives from India and receives a mandatory COVID-19 test at Pearson International Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Monday, Feb. 1, 2021. B.C.’s approved rapid tests also use a nasal swab, with a machine to scan for COVID-19 antibodies. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C.’s rapid COVID-19 tests have produced only two positive results

Tests deployed for exposures in schools, outbreaks in care homes, jails

BC Emergency Health Services confirmed that a call was received just before 10 a.m. Ground paramedics, as well as an air ambulance, are on the way to the area. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
BREAKING: Helicopter goes down on Bowen Island

Unclear how many passengers aboard and unclear where the helicopter was going

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: How’s your butter?

Recent reports have some Canadians giving a second look to one of… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of March 2

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

The Nanaimo bar display at the Nanaimo Museum. (City of Nanaimo Instagram)
City of Nanaimo points to correct recipe after New York Times botches batch of bars

City addresses ‘controversy’ around dessert square’s layers

A man holds a picture of Chantel Moore during a healing gathering at the B.C. Legislature in Victoria on June 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. First Nation demands transparency in probe into second fatal RCMP shooting

‘Police have killed more Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation members than COVID’

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C. on the COVID-19 situation. (B.C. government)
Dr. Bonnie Henry predicts a ‘post-pandemic world’ for B.C. this summer

‘Extending this second dose provides very high real-world protection to more people, sooner’

Comox Valley-raised Shay Sandiford has earned a spot on the Canada skateboard team. Facebook
Vancouver Islander selected to Canada’s first-ever national skateboard team

Courtenay’s Shay Sandiford has his eye on qualifying for this summer’s Olympics in Tokyo

Most Read