West Kelowna Fire Rescue now carries medicine to treat opioid overdoses

The department has completed training its firefighters to administer Naloxone.

West Kelowna Fire Rescue has a new weapon  in its arsenal – one for fighting the effects of opioid overdoes.

The department says it now carries, and has trained its firefighters to administer, Naloxone, a medication that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

According to the WKFR, the city, like many other communities in B.C., is experiencing an increase in the number of opioid overdose emergencies. Last year, the department responded to 38 overdose emergencies and by June of this year, it had already responded to 23.

“Although we would certainly prefer not to experience these emergencies in the first place, it is important to ensure we are equipped to handle opioid overdoses in our first medical responder role,” said West Kelowna fire chief Jason Brolund.

“Our sole focus is protecting our residents and ensuring we are the best equipped we can be to handle any emergency.”

Up to now, firefighters were only able to assist breathing, perform CPR, use automated external defibrillators and administer oxygen if they were first on scene at a medical emergency. For al other medical treatment, they had to until an ambulance arrived and its crew would administer medication to counteract the effects of an overdose.

In response to the growing number of drug overdose deaths in B.C., the province announced in January that first responders would be allowed to administer Naloxone in drug overdose emergencies.

Brolund said WKFR firefighters has now completed the training and licensuring of firefighters to to administer Naloxone.