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Toronto firefighters will soon be equipped with naloxone kits

CRISTINA HOWORUN AND NEWS STAFF | posted Tuesday, Aug 1st, 2017

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As the city deals with a weekend surge in Fentanyl related overdoses, Toronto firefighters will soon be equipped with life-saving naloxone kits.

Deputy Fire Chief Jim Jessop told CityNews they’ve been looking at the issue for some time now and have started to put the wheels in motion.

Naloxone is a powerful medication used to block the effects of opioids, especially in overdose.

Mayor John Tory confirmed these plans while speaking with the media on Monday.

“We have plans afoot to have our firefighters have naloxone kits available to them which help again in instances in which they’re the first responders that arrive first on the scene of an overdose,” Tory said.

Approximately 2900 firefighters will have to undergo medically-supervised training. Jessop estimates the cost for initially equipping firefighting apparatuses and stations will be about $40,000.

This comes after a startling weekend surge of overdoses on Toronto streets.

Since Thursday, 27 overdose cases have been reported and Toronto Police confirm four deaths are Fentanyl related.

Police believe a batch of heroin laced with Fentanyl is to blame for the deaths.

The spike in overdoses prompted police to issue a public safety alert on Saturday.

Tory said he’s “deeply troubled” by the recent spike in deaths and overdoses.

“It’s a very, very perplexing and troubling problem. It’s such a tragedy to see this number of people dying and to see this number of people having overdoses that they’re experiencing without losing their lives,” the mayor said.

Jessop said firefighters are often the first at the scene when responding to overdose calls.

Toronto paramedics have been equipped with naloxone kits since 2015.

Toronto police currently do not carry the drug but Tory said he’s willing to reconsider that should medical and emergency officials consider it a necessary step to save lives.

“If they think that a broader distribution beyond the expansion that we’re about to undertake to firefighters and beyond of course the paramedics who already have it … if they think it’s going to make a significant improvement in our ability to stop these deaths, then I am willing to look at it,” Tory said.

Police spokesperson Mark Pugash has previously said police don’t carry naloxone kits because paramedics are equipped and respond to the same calls.

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