Capital News file A naloxone kit.

Kelowna librarians, city staff, preparing to help in OD crisis

OD crisis is changing traditional roles

Librarians aren’t the first people who come to mind when discussions about the overdose crisis arise, but they’re among those who have had to adapt to the change it’s created.

Just a year ago there was an overdose in one of the Okanagan Regional Libraries, said Michael Utko, the Okanagan Regional Library’s communications manager, and it’s had an effect.

“The situation was handled well, but the potential for a death was there,” said Utko, adding that it, plus the stories from libraries in high drug traffic cities around North America, have sparked change.

“While we don’t have anything finalized, equipping staff with naloxone kits to help with overdoses and other incidents is being considered…It’s not going to be mandated, but if we do it, it will be person to person, librarian to librarian ”

Kelowna’s library won’t be the first place to implement such training measures.

READ MORE: OD CRISIS RAN OUT OF CONTROL IN 2017

In larger high drug traffic cities librarians have become unlikely frontline workers in the opioid crisis, roaming from bathrooms to the stacks looking for men or women exhibiting the telltale signs of an overdose—ranging from paleness and shortness of breath to unconsciousness.

The reason for this unlikely scenario is simply that libraries are open to the public and welcome people of all walks.

The job of bylaw officers has shifted for a similar reason.

Lance Kayfish, risk manager for the City of Kelowna said that all their bylaw services staff have had the training to administer the life saving substance—though it’s also not mandated training.

“We started having that conversation awhile ago,” Kayfish said. “There is interest by some and there is some concern and apprehension by others, also.”

Some of those who have taken the chance to educate themselves on using the naloxone kits have had the opportunity to put their training to use.

“I do know that we have been administering naloxone on more than one occasion,” said Kayfish.

Kayfish, himself, has taken the training, noting that it’s not as though there isn’t ample access to services in the downtown if he were to come across an overdose—it’s simply a reflection of the times.

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