Moose Jaw Police Chief Rick Bourassa says "we're not responding to what we see is a major issue. What we're doing is trying to get ahead of it, should it become an issue."
He's referring to Monday morning's announcement that through the Five Hills Health Region (FHHR), take-home Naloxone kits are going to be made available free of charge for those at risk of overdosing on opiods.
Naloxone, which is also sold under the brand-name Narcan, is "an antidote," says Mary Lee Booth, FHHR Executive Director of Integrated Community Health. "It reverses the opiod overdose. The person who get Naloxone will go into withdrawal within three to five minutes, and the effects will last 20-30 minutes."
The kits, which become available June 6, are provided through the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health as part of a $50,000 pilot project that began in the Saskatoon Health Region in 2015. FHHR is the latest to become involved, following SHR, Regina Qu'Appelle, Prairie North, Prince Albert Parkland and Sunrise Health Regions.
Bourassa says although police across the province have made some seizures of the addictive opiod Fentanyl, there hasn't been an alarming rate of opiod overdosing deaths in Saskatchewan, suggesting "less than 10" in the last two years.
"We know British Columbia and Alberta have had issues with opiod overdoses..fentanyl..we're not seeing that level here in Saskatchewan."
However, he's pleased with the program rollout and says Moose Jaw Police Service officers will have an extra tool at their disposal should they discover a potential overdose victim.
"We've issued aerosol Naloxone to our members in the event they encounter someone who has overdosed," said Bourassa. "Prior to emergency services responding our members could provide that to potential overdose victims. As well, should they be in a situation where they're doing a search and think they may have been exposed to a (opiod) substance and feel some of the symptoms they can apply it to themselves, then seek medical attention."
Booth says Naloxone kits (which contain syringes and vials of the substance) are available for purchase at most pharmacies, but are free of charge through the FHHR program for opiod users.
"That includes people who are on prescribed medications as well," she said. "We hope they'll contact us and make an appointment. Come in for about 30 minutes for the training and the at-risk people will be administered a kit."
Booth says anyone who feels they may be at risk and would like a kit can make an appointment by calling 306-691-6464.