During the height of the 2016 public health emergency in B.C., an Okanagan student joined the fight against the overdose epidemic.
Ariel Smith volunteered with the Helping Out People Exploited (HOPE) Outreach naloxone training team and supported homeless and exploited women in Kelowna and throughout the Okanagan during the 2016 crisis.
Now a second-year medical student at UBCO, Smith is bringing the naloxone training necessary to save lives during an overdose to a free, hands-on clinic in the Okanagan.
“Through conversations with family and friends, I recognized a huge knowledge gap still existed in our community,” said Smith.
“Especially, considering the majority of opioid overdose deaths in BC happen to people living inside a private residence.”
For a year and a half working with HOPE Outreach, Smith visited homeless shelters and various Okanagan downtown locations. There, using naloxone kits, she trained some of the most vulnerable populations how to prevent opioid overdoses and save lives. Naloxone, if used promptly, can reverse the effects of an overdose from narcotics such as fentanyl or OxyContin.
Smith’s recently launched Okanagan Naloxone Training will be part of UBCO’s Faculty of Medicine’s flexible and enhanced learning courses.
The training will be provided along side HOPE Outreach for free naloxone sessions for residents, businesses and volunteer organizations in the Okanagan.
“There is still a large stigma associated with opioids and naloxone training,” said Smith.
“In our workshops, we create a safe learning environment for people to ask questions, learn to recognize the signs of an overdose and practice with real equipment.”
Participants receive training, certificate of completion and a free naloxone kit.
The overdose prevention clinic will take place Nov. 25 at UBCO at 6 p.m. More information here.
Register for the program at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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