Saint John police will be trained in how to use naloxone, a drug that can save the lives of people overdosing on opioids such as fentanyl.
Chief John Bates says he wants Saint John to be ready for a problem that has turned into a crisis in other centres.
The force has ordered naloxone kits and arranged for some officers and civilian employees to get online instruction in administering the medication.
“Our initial rollout will be to members of the force, including some civilians, that would be more likely to, due to the course of their duties, encounter undetected fentanyl,” said Bates.
“Whether they be identification officers, drug investigation officers, even our folks that work in property and control, and it could be on an object that they’re handling.”
Antidote to all opiates
Naloxone, which is sold under the brand name Narcan, is effective is reversing effects of all opiates, including fentanyl, morphine and dilaudid.
At least 2,458 Canadians died of an opiate overdose in 2016, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.
Fentanyl can pose a threat to not just drug users but also to those who accidentally touch it. This was the case in May when an Ohio police officer overdosed on the drug after touching some of the powder on his shirt.
Bates said the force wants to protect its officers, who face an increasing risk of exposure to drugs such as fentanyl as it reaches the streets of Saint John.
“I think as an employer, and particularly as an employer of first responders, it’s incumbent on us to make available either protective equipment or medicine to protect our employees,” he said. “That’s our responsibility as an employer.”
Bates will represent New Brunswick police chiefs on the newly formed Interdepartmental Illicit Fentanyl Preparedness Task Force, a project set up to prepare the…