One way to save lives from overdose is to distribute Narcan kits to known drug dealers and ask them to give them out to customers, according to one of the area’s foremost experts on addiction.
Dr. Peter Entwistle was one of seven panelists at the Community Fentanyl Forum held at Riverside Center in Princeton last Wednesday.
“We all know who the dealers are,” said Enwistle. “Maybe we could ask them to do their civic duty.”
Entwistle is the only full time addictions doctor in the valley. He stood as an independent in the provincial election this spring on the single platform of healthcare and policy reform to address the Fentanyl crisis.
“People are dying. This is a huge problem. They are doing this all over Osoyoos, the dealers have them,” he told the audience.
“It is past time to talk about only the things that make us comfortable.” About 30 people attended the forum.
RCMP Corporal Darin Underhill, who is the service’s prevention strategist for the Princeton area, commented on the crowd size.
“You’ve got really good attendance tonight. A lot of these things I go to only four or five people show up.”
While each panelist gave a brief overview of his or her specialty before the meeting opened up to questions, Princeton’s public health nurse Jacqueline Cimbaro also took time to demonstrate how a Narcan kit works.
Among other duties, Cimbaro is charged with training first responders and educating the public about Narcan and its use.
She said she has trained the principal of Princeton Secondary School, as well as students at the alternative school commonly called The Bridge.
Sandra Lawlor, a member of the Erris Volunteer Fire Department, was in the front row of the audience and expressed to Cimbaro that having first responders from the rural communities trained and equipped could be lifesaving.
“We are often the first ones on the scene and an ambulance could be 30 minutes away,” she said.
After the meeting Lawlor said she – and other Erris first responders who attended – found the forum informative.
“Our members believe that one of the best tools we can have in our tool box is knowledge. We wanted to learn more about this vicious indiscriminate drug and how best to recognize the signs of its use.”
TamAirah Pederson Campbell also attended the meeting, and said she was drawn there because of how affected everyone is by Fentanyl in Princeton.
“When I was living in the city (Vancouver) the entity that is the “drug culture” was ubiquitous, however indirectly, and still very intangible.
“Now that I’m living in a small town there is absolute zero degrees of separation from it. Someone knows someone who’s directly affected. It really hits close to home here so I had to be here tonight.”
Four Princeton residents have died from Fentanyl overdoses so far this year.
Glenn Braithwaite, representing BC Ambulance Service as a district supervisor, likened the Fentanyl crisis to a war that is being lost.
He called “working on the front line” a “tour of duty…
personally I have lost count of the people I could not save.”
Braithwaite said that 81 per cent of drug related deaths in BC contain some element of Fentanyl.
One member of the audience asked Princeton RCMP Corporal Chad Parsons if there is a risk of Fentanyl occurring in marijuana.
“There is, yes there certainly is,” he said. Parsons said it’s possible that Fentanyl, normally mixed with harder street drugs, could cross-contaminate marijuana if it is handled by the same dealer.
He added RCMP members are now all equipped with their own Narcon kits, in a nasal application.
The community forum was a project organized by a committee of Princeton town council and the event was spearheaded by councillor Rosemary Doughty.