Kamloops overdose prevention sites saving lives

By Vanessa Ybarra
January 5, 2017 - 5:16pm Updated: January 5, 2017 - 9:46pm

KAMLOOPS —  There were 31-fentayl-related overdoses in Kamloops last year.

That number could have increased but the Ask Wellness overdose prevention sites have saved four lives since opening three weeks ago.

"Before New Years, we had four people that had gone down in a full overdose that needed to be revived with naloxone," said Bob Hughes, Executive Director for Ask Wellness.

150 people have also accessed their north and south shore sites, seeking clean needles and kits. 

"About 1,000 rigs have gone out in less than three weeks," said Hughes. "150 naloxone kits have been distributed."

The overdose prevention sites are open from noon to 10 p.m, Monday through Friday.

An Interior Health nurse and staff are on hand, prepared to administer naloxone.

"Inside every Naloxone kit we have three viles of naloxone," said Kira Kaug, Program Co-ordinator with Ask Wellness. 

"There's also three vanishing-point syringes and we provide a mouth shield as well so you can give breaths to somebody's airwaves and keep them oxygenated." 

Hughes says the core focus of the new sites goes beyond providing last-minute life-saving measures.

His goal is to provide more than just opioid medications to struggling addicts. 

"When we meet people and we provide harm reduction, lets drill down deeper and find out 'do you have housing, do you have a safe place to be, where are you in accessing treatment?' said Hughes. 

"The next piece is lets get some doctors in here that are qualified to administer suboxone and methadose, then provide the housing for them when they decide to get involved with these programs."

Hughes says Ask Wellness will re-examine the sites benefits and whether  to keep them running in March. 

Until then, the critical focus remains on saving lives, one kit at a time.

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