Health unit reports increase in suspected opioid overdoses

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PRESS RELEASE
PORCUPINE HEATING UNIT
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The Opioid Emergency Response Task Force has issued a public safety alert. Based on information received from emergency services, an increase in suspected opioid overdoses has been identified in and around Timmins.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, IHP and community partners continue to monitor and respond to the use of opioids and substances in our communities.

Dr. Catton, Medical Officer of Health, Porcupine Health Unit says, “We all play a critical role in raising community awareness and reducing the tragic consequences. This is especially important right now, as many organizations have had to change the way they deliver their services. Formal and informal supports may seem different from those of members of our community during COVID-19. “

An overdose of opioids occurs when an individual ingests more than one substance or combination of substances that interferes with breathing and brain function. Naloxone is effective in temporarily reversing the effects of an opioid overdose. Dr. Catton advises, “It is safe to give naloxone by nasal spray because it is not a medical procedure that generates aerosols and, as such, it is important not to delay the response during COVID19. “

If you suspect an overdose, call 911 immediately, wear available personal protective equipment, such as a mask and gloves, administer naloxone if available and wait for help to arrive. If CPR is to be performed, use only chest compressions and do not provide rescue breaths. There are other ways to reduce the risk of overdose, including calling someone before using and leaving the door unlocked in case emergency medical services (EMS) intervene, using small doses and avoiding mixing substances.

According to Dr. Catton, the Porcupine Health Unit is working with all community partners to ensure that naloxone is readily available in all communities, especially during this time when there are so many urgent needs related to COVIDs. People who use drugs and their families and friends should be aware of the signs and symptoms of an overdose and know how to give first aid, including the administration of naloxone.

Free naloxone kits are readily available throughout the region at the offices of the Porcupine Health Unit, Living Space and in many pharmacies. A list of sites is available at: https://www.ontario.ca/page/get-naloxone-kits-free. The Timmins and Area Drug Strategy is the product of collaboration with several key community partners in the health and social services sectors who are working to comprehensively address opioids and substance use in our communities.

The Opioid Emergency Response Task Force is a member of the Timmins and Area Drug Strategy that monitors and collects data that may warrant intervention through public alerts, increased distribution of naloxone and information for people who use substances and their loved ones.

The Porcupine Health Unit is located in northeastern Ontario and serves the entire district of Cochrane and Hornepayne in the district of Algoma. The main office is located in Timmins, Ontario, with branches in Cochrane, Hearst, Hornepayne, Iroquois Falls, Kapuskasing, Matheson, Moosonee and Smooth Rock Falls.

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