I offer the following personal story as a wake up call as to the state of the fentanyl crisis in our communities.
Last night while just beginning our Father’s Day BBQ in our newly renovated backyard around six pm, a young man essentially overdosed in the back public walkway just behind our house off 216th in Walnut Grove. What was once a children’s enchanted forest has now become a nightmare, a meeting place for people to take their drugs. This is NOT the first overdose right behind our house. Two weeks ago a neighbour found a man passed out and called for the police and ambulance…45 minutes later they came.
The young man last night was clearly on drugs, screaming and trying to kick in the neighbours back gate. My wife called 911 and described what she saw and was told that the call had been dispatched out. The young man went from a state of paranoia, screaming “let me in” and the random “don’t touch me”, even though no one was around him, to passing out on the walkway. And then nothing, there he lay on the ground. 10 minutes went by. My neighbours looked on from their balconies questioning if he was breathing.
My wife called 911 back. “I don’t know if he is breathing. He passed out flat onto the ground.” The 911 operator patched through on another line that they would contact ambulance too.
By then I had walked over to cautiously try and check over the poor fellow. “Wake up buddy, can you hear me?” The young man was non-responsive. I could see he was breathing but his respiration rate was observably slowing down.
I gave the young man a dose of naloxone. Nothing. One more dose; still nothing. I notice that his breathing had stopped so I checked his pulse and then begin CPR.
I could hear my wife yell that help is on the way and that she could see the fire truck. I continued chest compressions. Finally, another shot of Naloxone. That’s three doses! Three doses and no first responders to arrive. Finally the fire truck pulls up and began to help. We learned that the dispatcher had told fire that they could not attend until the police arrived, they arrived sooner so they had to wait. By the time the firemen walked up he was breathing on his own again.
Eventually the police arrived. The young man, who was sitting up at this point, bolted as soon as he saw them. He was caught, detained and eventually carted off, handcuffed to a stretcher. Not something one expects to see on a Sunday early evening. And it got chaotic as two Ambulances, two-three police cruisers, and the fire truck arrived. Once he was in the ambulance we went back to our family Father’s Day BBQ.
All of the first responders were complementary with how we acted but questioned why I would have Naloxone in my house. I have a Naloxone kit because I work very closely with the Construction Industry Rehabilitation Plan who are qualified Naloxone trainers and are authorized to provide free kits and training to the community. I keep the kit in my computer bag for training purposes. I never dreamed in a million years that I would need to use it in my back yard.
If you would like more information about setting up a naloxone program for your organization, call CIRP at 604-524-8611
Brooks Patterson, CRSP, C.Dir
Vice President, HSE & Loss Control