The opioid epidemic in North America is increasingly hitting home in Norfolk County.
At last Wednesday’s meeting of the Norfolk Police Services Board, Acting Insp. Jim Millson noted that front-line officers have administered life-saving doses of an opioid antidote to four individuals so far in March.
“I have noticed an uptick in calls, yes,” Millson said. “This month alone our officers saved four individuals with naloxone. For some reason – in March – we have seen an uptick.”
Norfolk OPP recently reported they were called upon twice in the same day to save a woman from opioid overdoses. On March 25, front-line officers saved two Norfolk men with naloxone in the span of an hour.
A 28-year-old Norfolk man was pulled back from the brink in Simcoe around 6:30 p.m. while a 37-year-old man – also in Simcoe – was saved around 7:30 p.m.
“Officers arrived on scene and located a homeowner conducting chest compressions on the male,” Const. Ed Sanchuk, spokesperson for the Norfolk OPP, said of the latter incident in a news release.
“Attending officers were informed that a dose of naloxone had already been administered. Officers still noted that the male was in medical crisis from what appeared to be an opioid overdose. An officer immediately administered approximately three more doses of naloxone and revived the unconscious male, who was transported to a local area hospital by ambulance for further treatment.”
Insp. Joe Varga, chief of the Norfolk OPP, praised the officers for their cool under pressure.
“Officers that attended both of these addresses were able to quickly identify an opioid overdose and administered naloxone, ultimately saving both men,” Varga said.
“When someone is overdosing, minutes can make the difference between life and death.”
At last Wednesday’s meeting of the police services board, chair David Murphy noted that the woman saved from an overdose twice in Norfolk in early March made the national news.
Naloxone temporarily reverses the effect of an overdose by blocking the uptake of opioids into the nervous system. An opioid overdose kills by depressing the respiratory system to the point of collapse.
Naloxone is safe and easy to administer but it is considered only a temporary solution. The chemical buys victims time to get to hospital for a more permanent solution.
Opium-based narcotics include codeine, morphine and heroin. Chemists have since figured out how to synthesize these compounds in the laboratory using artificial methods.
Synthetic derivatives include fentanyl, carfentanil and other dangerous substances such as purple heroin.
The synthetic variations are much more potent than the natural compounds. A few grains of fentanyl are powerful enough to kill individuals who have not built up a tolerance to these substances.