Firefighters are also affected by the opioid crisis. - Credit: Carli Berry/Capital News

Kelowna firefighters affected by opioid crisis

Firefighters will be changing halls every year to rotate from the downtown core

The opioid crisis is taking its toll on Kelowna firefighters.

For their mental health, firefighters are starting hall rotations on a yearly basis around the city.

Previously, rotations were conducted every two years, said deputy fire chief Larry Hollier.

“It definitely works on them psychologically, going to repeated overdoses, because not all overdoses turn out to the positive side,” he said. “Due to the mental health and the increasing overdoses downtown, it gives the guys a bit of a break.”

Each first fire engine dispatched is supplied with two naloxone kits. Firetrucks were supplied with the kits about a year and a half ago, said Hollier. Firefighters administer naloxone several times a week.

“I think in the downtown core we’re averaging two overdoses a day, but that doesn’t mean we’re first on scene or that we’re administering before BC Ambulance arrives,” he said.

It’s not a difficult drug to administer, he said. The overdoses are not limited to the downtown core either.

More than 2,800 people in Canada died last year as a result of the opioid crisis, with 47 in Kelowna.

More than 1,100 people died from overdoses this year in B.C., making it one of the hardest hit by the epidemic. About 60 died between January and August in Kelowna.

The new firefighter rotations start Jan. 1.

Interior Health does not offer specific training for first responders, but “is grateful to all of the first responders for working to save lives during the overdose emergency,” said John Yarschenko, IH health services administrator.

First responders are covered by BC Emergency Health Services, he said.

“For the general public, we provide a variety of mental health services in the community. Services include individual and group counselling, psychiatric and psychological services, urgent and emergent intervention, and case management services.”

Recently, the federal government announced $10 million in emergency funding to combat the opioid crisis from the frontlines in B.C., as part of a larger funding commitment to combat gun violence and gang activity across the country.

To report a typo, email: edit@kelownacapnews.com.


@carliberry_
carli.berry@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Community Leader Awards: The Red Cross

The Kelowna Capital News honours volunteers in the community

Update: Multiple vehicle incident closes eastbound Okanagan Connector

Highway 97C is closed to eastbound traffic near Pennask Summit following an incident Sunday afternon

Provincial program offers assistance to agricultural producers

AgriStability Enhancement Program benefits agricultural producers who saw an income decline in 2017

DRAWL searches for Okanagan Valley accent

UBC study wants to hear from Okanagan residents

OC research project unites outdoor play experts

Researchers to meet in Scotland on how to advance outdoor play for kids

PHOTOS: Icing the competition

Skate Canada 2018 Okanagan Regional Championships skated through Vernon this weekend

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Owls soar to valley basketball title

KSS wins easily at Okanagan finals to represent valley next week at provincials in Langley

Brakemen pulling out all the stops for 2018

Kettle Valley Brakemen planning some surprises

#Metoo movement causing confusion in many men, fear of missteps with women: experts

Being painted by the same sweeping brush as those alleged to have mistreated women has angered men

Liberals to dig deeper, aim higher on gender equality in 2018 federal budget

Finance Minister Bill Morneau said the budget would include measures to boost women in the workforce

RCMP seeking missing Sun Peaks man

Ryan Shtuka, 19, was last seen leaving a party on Burfield Drive Friday night

Southern Interior receives as much as 30cm of snow

Environment Canada report shows deep snow in the wake of storm

UPDATE: Body of missing skier found

Man’s truck found in Revelstoke Mountain Resort’s parking lot covered in ‘several days’ snow’

Most Read