The fentanyl death toll keeps rising. Some B.C. employers now have naloxone on hand for occupational first aid attendants who treat workers and the public.
Should employers add naloxone to their emergency response plan?
WorkSafeBC has received calls from employers and occupational first aid attendants (OFAs) who want to know if administering naloxone is within the scope of services an OFA can provide, says Dan Westerby, manager of WorkSafeBC’s Certification Services.
The answer is yes. It is within the scope of OFA duties to administer naloxone. This drug can save lives by reversing the effects of opioids, including fentanyl.
Naloxone is available over the counter, with no prescription needed. In the past, only doctors could administer it. In October 2016, the Health Professions Act and the Emergency Health Services Act were amended so that now anyone can administer naloxone if they are trained to do so.
Basically, you stab the needle into a person – right into the thigh muscle, through clothing. It’s like an EpiPen (the device used for life-threatening allergies).
Naloxone more likely to be used on the public
In some workplaces – like universities, public buildings, and retail stores – the majority of OFA calls are for members of the public, Dan says. The naloxone is more likely to be used on the public than on workers, and thankfully it is on hand in more and more places.
According to the most recent report from the B.C. Coroners Service, fentanyl was detected in 368 (of 511) illicit drug overdose deaths from January through April 2017.
Many of these fatal overdoses happened in Vancouver, my hometown. I usually find out about such deaths on Facebook. Yet another person’s daughter, uncle, roommate, or coworker has died from a fentanyl overdose. Grieving loved ones post a stream of condolences and tributes to these lives lost.
Learn more about naloxone
See WorkSafeBC’s First Aid Advisory: Naloxone for more information about how naloxone may fit into a workplace emergency response plan.
The Naloxone Risk Assessment Tool – For non–public sector organizations helps organizations in B.C. to assess whether their staff should carry or stock naloxone to use in the event that employees, clients, or members of the public experience an overdose.
You can get a kit (and training) from the Take Home Naloxone Program if you are concerned about family and friends who may be at risk. Parents and mentors, please read this Letter to parents and guardians – talk to your youth about substance use.