The Ontario Provincial Police announced today they will provide naloxone to all frontline members and to those in designated specialized units.
Frontline officers will be issued a kit with two doses of naloxone nasal spray while on duty, while members of selected specialized units, such as Drug Enforcement Units and Community Street Crime Units, will each be issued a personal kit according to the OPP.
Naloxone is an opioid antidote that can reverse an opioid overdose for approximately 20 minutes to one hour, depending on the strength of the drug.
“The opioid crisis is a growing threat. Equipping OPP officers with naloxone kits will give vulnerable people timely access to this life-saving drug. When someone is overdosing, minutes can make the difference between life and death. This initiative will save lives remarks the “Hon. Marie-France Lalonde, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services
Police say Health Canada testing determined fentanyl was present in 114 OPP seizures in 2016 from the mainly rural communities the OPP serves. Testing results for 2017 are not yet available but police expect the number of seizures with fentanyl present to be similar.
Commissioner J.V.N. (vince) Hawkes says “We take the health and safety of our members and our communities very seriously. With the increased prevalence of fentanyl, fentanyl analogues and synthetic opioid powders on our streets, there is a very real danger of exposure and these steps are being taken to ensure the safety of those we serve and our officers.”
The primary purpose of the naloxone in this case is for use if an officer is exposed. However, it can also be used if an officer suspects an overdose and emergency medical services are not immediately available.
“The safety of our members is paramount and as we are seeing more fentanyl in various forms, the chance of exposure is increased. Having additional personal protective equipment and naloxone on hand could very well save the life of one of our members, or a member of the public.” says Rob Jamieson, President, Ontario Provincial Police Association
Frontline members will also be required to wear protective equipment including a respiratory mask, safety glasses or goggles, nitrile gloves and long sleeve shirt or jacket. while conducting suspected drug searches, seizures and/or sampling to help ensure the safety of OPP officers.
Members will receive specialized training on the use of naloxone, the protective equipment and new procedures on how to handle any suspected controlled substance over the summer.
The OPP is currently in the procurement process to acquire the naloxone kits.
Peterborough,Durham and Barrie police have already issued Naloxone kits to officers. Peterborough Regional Health Centre has kits in the emergency department.