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Richmond council unanimously supports overdose-reversing program in city buildings

Sixteen people in Richmond died between January and September of suspected drug poisonings and overdoses.
A Naloxone kit, used to reverse some drug overdoses.

Richmond’s city buildings will see naloxone kits available for the public to access.

City council unanimously passed a motion on Monday to make naloxone, which quickly and temporarily reverses the effects of opioid overdoses, available in city buildings, including the Richmond Olympic Oval.

As of Sept. 30, 16 people have died in Richmond this year from suspected drug poisonings or overdoses.

In October, Richmond Fire-Rescue responded to 24 overdoses or drug poisoning calls. Of these, 16 were indoors while eight took place outdoors.

Naloxone can work by restoring breathing within two-to-five minutes of use. The drug only works against opioids like fentanyl and heroin and is effective for 20-to-90 minutes.

There are two types of naloxone kits: nasal sprays and injectables for muscles like in the arm or thigh, according to Health Canada.

Coun. Kash Heed initiated the motion last week and it came back to city council this week for a vote.

During questioning, Elizabeth Ayers, general manager of community services, said the city’s occupational health and safety team advised the nasal kits intended for the program are safe up to -20°C temperature, so the naloxone will be well maintained.

The motion also called for procedures for access to be developed for automated external defibrillators (AED), which are electronic machines that can save lives by restarting a person’s heart if it has stopped beating, reads Health Canada’s website.

There are currently 45 AEDs inside city buildings, Ayers said.

Coun. Bill McNulty asked if city staff can get a memo on what the current procedures are and include information such as who is trained in how to use defibrillators in the buildings and if there will be signs directing its use for the public.

Brodie said council can ask city staff after the program is implemented to advise them on the procedures.

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