Cumberland Coun. Roger Kishi introduced the motion on June 25. Photo by Scott Strasser.

Cumberland approves hosting overdose prevention training session

The Village will partner with AIDS Vancouver Island

The Village of Cumberland will soon host a training session on how to administer naloxone, the life-saving drug that can temporarily counteract an opioid overdose.

At its June 25 meeting, Cumberland council approved a motion from Coun. Roger Kishi to partner with AIDS Vancouver Island to host an overdose prevention training session in the near future.

“It’s quite a simple task to do and maybe this could lead to other opportunities for raising awareness around harm reduction, the opioid crisis, and other substance use issues in the village,” said Kishi.

Naloxone is a drug that temporarily neutralizes an opioid overdose by binding with the same receptors targeted by the drugs and limiting their effects. It’s most commonly used for fentanyl or heroin overdoses.

AIDS Vancouver Island has offered overdose prevention training to community groups and organizations upon request since 2014.

AIDS Vancouver Island Courtenay manager Sarah Sullivan says the training session in Cumberland would be free for any interested members of the public and would include a free naloxone kit at the end.

“It would be an overdose prevention training session free to anyone in the community to attend to learn about the signs of an overdose, how to respond to an overdose through rescue breathing, and administering naloxone,” she said.

Kishi said the idea to pursue harm reduction initiatives came from a resident at Cumberland’s most recent Village Hall meeting on June 4. He later spoke to AIDS Vancouver Island representatives about the idea’s feasibility.

Despite the success of safe injection sites and the dispersal of naloxone kits across the province, the opioid crisis is not showing any signs of slowing down in B.C.

According to the BC Coroners Service, a total of 620 people in B.C. have already died from illicit drug overdoses in 2018. The numbers equate to roughly 3.5 people dying each day across the province.

“I think it’s sending a good message to the community that we need to have more open discussions and awareness around substance use, particularly now, with the opioid crisis, because people are dying,” said Kishi.

While the date for the session is still unknown, the Village approved hosting it at its cultural centre.

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