Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Vancouver Police to Get Naloxone Nasal Spray in Case of Opioid Exposure

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Vancouver Police to Get Naloxone Nasal Spray in Case of Opioid Exposure

Article excerpt

Vancouver police, staff get naloxone nasal spray

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VANCOUVER - Vancouver police officers and support staff will soon have access to the nasal-spray form of naloxone to protect themselves against accidental exposure to toxic opioids such as fentanyl.

Chief Adam Palmer said employees are increasingly coming into contact with potentially dangerous drugs at work.

He said it's essential to provide them with medication used to block or reverse the effects of opioids, which have caused hundreds of overdose deaths in Vancouver and across the country.

Exposure to the drugs can also cause extreme drowsiness, slowed breathing or loss of consciousness.

Sgt. Brian Montague said there are reports of police officers in the United States experiencing overdose symptoms during drug investigations, including two officers with the New York Police Department.

"They began to get dizzy, it affected their breathing, they began to pass out and both of them said they thought they were going to die," he said Friday.

Three officers in British Columbia also recently experienced overdose symptoms after handling drugs or exhibits contaminated with fentanyl, Montague said, adding the cities involved have not been disclosed.

"Front-line staff and support staff in our property office, in our gang section, in our drug section, are coming into contact with fentanyl and very strong opioids on a regular basis," he said.

"We actually have a piece of equipment that was brought in from a drug lab awhile back and it's badly contaminated with fentanyl. It's just sitting in a corner of the property office and they don't know what to do with it."

Montague said the Vancouver Police Department wrote to federal Health Minister Jane Philpott in March to request that naloxone, known by the brand name Narcan, be approved in a nasal form, the same as in the U.S.

The approval came in July.

Montague said all staff will be trained to use the nasal form of naloxone in the next few weeks, but officers can choose whether they want to carry it. …

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