JIBC Develops Fentanyl Safety Resource for First Responders
Joint effort by public safety agencies with funding from BC provincial government will provide needed information to help support first responder safety associated with fentanyl exposure in the community
With overdoses and fatalities stemming from fentanyl use reaching epidemic proportions, the Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC) has launched a fentanyl website for first responders.
JIBC hosted two workshops for first responders on the fentanyl issue earlier this year. The sessions were so well received, organizers decided an online educational resource was needed to provide essential information about fentanyl to as many first responders as possible. The website (https://fentanylsafety.com) is the result.
“The overdose crisis has had a direct impact on so many British Columbians. From recreational users, those suffering addiction and their families, through the range of healthcare workers, front line responders and police,” said Mike Morris, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “We need to do all we can to ensure all those involved have the tools they need to remain safe. Education and awareness are key to meeting these challenges and the JIBC fentanyl website is a helpful addition to that toolkit.”
“First responders are currently adapting to the danger that fentanyl presents to their personal safety,” said Steve Schnitzer, director of the JIBC Police Academy. “The first step is improving our knowledge of the drug itself, and learning best practices in a variety of situations, such as handling drugs during a seizure or while responding to an overdose. The JIBC Fentanyl Safety website is one of several options for first responders to use as an online resource, to educate and protect themselves and their communities.”
Topics covered on the site include: what fentanyl is and why it is so dangerous for first responders; safe handling of suspected fentanyl; what is Naloxone and how it can save lives in cases of opioid overdoses; and job-specific information for law enforcement, fire and rescue personnel, and paramedics to help them stay safe when encountering fentanyl in the community.
Corp. Eric Boechler, with the RCMP Federal Clandestine Laboratory Enforcement and Response Team (CLEAR) in BC, co-developed the website concept and provided technical expertise.
“First responders across the province are increasingly concerned about possible exposure to fentanyl during the course of their duties. This public health epidemic not only directly affects people who use drugs, and their families, but also the first responders in our community tasked with tackling this epidemic on the streets,” Boechler said.
“Ensuring that our first responder community, both in the Province of BC and nationally, have the most up-to-date information to allow them to safely respond to incidents in our communities and return home to their families at the end of the shift is paramount. This website has been developed to ensure that all first responders, regardless of their shoulder patch or agency, have immediate access to potentially life-saving information to keep themselves and others safe.”
While designed with first responders in mind, the website will be accessible to the general public to help bolster awareness of the dangers of the highly toxic narcotic.
The site was developed by JIBC with funding from the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General. The creation of this website would not have been possible without tremendous assistance from colleagues in the first responder community, both from Canada and the United States, Health Canada, BC Ministry of Health, BC Coroner’s Office, BC Emergency Health Services and contacts within the medical profession.