ASK Wellness praises B.C.'s response to fentanyl overdoses

By Chad Klassen
April 22, 2016 - 1:14pm Updated: April 22, 2016 - 4:14pm

KAMLOOPS — It's a crisis that deepens by the day, and official only expect it to get worse. 

After six overdoses were reported in Kamloops on Thursday by the province, ASK Wellness says the community dodged a bullet.

WATCH: Full report by Chad Klassen

"This is a bit of a canary in a coal mine experience for us, where we got lucky," says Executive Director of ASK Wellness Bob Hughes. "Yesterday, nobody died, six people in a matter of three or four hours. That is an astonishing response to fentanyl in the community."

All six people were treated with naloxone, which reversed the overdoses and saved these lives. 

ASK Wellness is praising the province's proactive response to the situation. Bob Hughes says the quick reporting, thanks to B.C.'s public health emergency, also helped greatly. 

"We are hearing in communities like Kamloops that people are overdosing, people are dying, and I think this is a very responsible, couragous step by the province," says Hughes. "Terry Lake yesterday being directly the voice of saying, 'be aware this is happening.' Again, it speaks to the fact they're anticipating further harm happening to people using opiates."

Health Minister Lake says the province is projecting up to 800 overdoses this year alone, a big reason it declared the emergency. 

"What happened yesterday in Kamloops is a good example that when you have the information right away, you can alert people, street outreach workers, IHA, paramedics, and just the general public that there's some bad stuff out there and they need to be extremely careful," says Lake. 

ASK Wellness has been walking the streets, trying to educate users and also equip them with naloxone kits, which save lives, as we saw on Thursday. 

"We have what I would suggest is a fairly volatile summer ahead," says Hughes. "Lots of new folks in town. Lots of people who are really disenfranchised. We want to reach out to them. We want to help, but there's some folks out there that are in just such chaos."

"You combine that with this fentanyl crisis happening, and I think we're going to all have to be on our toes and we're going to have to find a way to act in a coordinated fashion in order to save lives and to protect our community's interests."

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