PETERBOROUGH-A needle was found on the playground of St. John Catholic Elementary School in Peterborough yesterday.
School officials posted a note of warning for parents on their Facebook page today saying, “Please talk to your child about not picking up any needle they find on the ground. They should inform the staff who will properly and safely dispose of such items.”
The needle did have a cap on it and no one was injured.
Staff are hopeful this will be an isolated incident. “I hope this is just a one off incident and does not become a regular incident, for the safety of our students, staff and community.”
Needles have been found in public areas in Peterborough in the past. In March 2016 in excess of 25 used, exposed hypodermic needles were found in a Peterborough Park. A city employee stumbled on the stash near Armour Hill and called Police. Police called Public Works to clean them up.
Brian Jobbit, the manager of Public Works says it happens quite a bit.vHe says they often find needles littered throughout the city. “We get at least one call a week” Jobbit says. It’s an issue thats linked to the drug culture but Jobbitt points out that they aren’t all from drug users. “Sometimes diabetics accidentally drop them or people lose them etc”
Drug addiction is a growing problem across the Province including Peterborough. The Municipal Drug Strategy Coordinators Network found that thousands of Ontarians have died of an opioid overdose since 2000, the vast majority, more than 60%, unintentionally. Non-fatal opioid overdoses have been estimated at 20-25 times the number of fatal . And that’s hitting hospital Emergency Departments hard. Opioid-related hospital emergency department visits in Ontario have increased significantly and hospital stays across Canada are up 23%.14
In Peterborough the rate has been steadily increasing over the last ten years. In 2003, 69 people ended up in the emergency department at Peterborough Regional Health Centre due to an overdose. By 2013 that number had increased a whopping 225% to 155 Emergency Department visits.
Police said hypodermic needles used to inject some of these drugs are a concern for every community and must be taken seriously. Deputy Police Chief Tim Farquharson says “Not only is it an indicator of drug use in a community but the discarded needles have to be handled in a safe manner and discarded properly. Tetanus, Hepatitis B virus, Hepatitis C virus and HIV are the viruses that are most commonly cited as being associated with needle stick injuries. We are fortunate in Peterborough to have Harm Reduction partners such as PARN ( Peterborough Aids Resource Network) who run a very succesful needle exchange program and this has cut down on the issue of found needles drastically since 2000”
The City of Peterborough Public Works staff have specialized equipment to clean up needles found in the city. Jobbitt says they use protective gloves, forecepts and a specialized sharps container to pick them up. There general public doesn’t have that luxury.
Police say never attempt to pick these up yourself. Call Police or Public Works for safe disposal.