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This Vancouver hospital equips security guards with naloxone — and it's saving lives


A downtown Vancouver hospital has trained and equipped security guards to administer potentially life-saving aid as B.C. continues to see record-high numbers of toxic drug deaths,

St. Paul's Hospital provides its security guards with Naloxone kits, and the health authority says they've been used 22 times to reverse overdoses since June of last year.

On Wednesday, Providence Health Care marked International Overdose Awareness Day by holding an open house on Wednesday to raise awareness about the initiative and hand out kits to the public.

The idea was first suggested by a patient who realized it might be helpful for security guards to be prepared in case of an emergency.

“It’s really nice to have. It’s a super useful tool for us,” said Cole Tait who works at the hospital and says guards are often the first to know about a crisis.

“Any way I can help somebody when they’re in that situation. I mean, they’re in a crisis situation. They’re going to need that help,” Tait added.

Clinical nurse specialist Elizabeth Dogherty said the guards embraced the idea.

“It’s often them who come across patients in bathrooms, waiting areas, hallways -- so it just made so much sense. And they’ve been so willing to take this on and are really going above and beyond,” she said.

According to the BC Coroners Service, 1,095 people have died from an illicit drug overdose in the first six months of this year — a toll that is likely to grow as death investigations conclude.

Fentanyl was a factor in a large number of those deaths, found in 83 per cent of investigations, and most of those deaths occurred indoors and in residences including private homes, supportive housing, shelters and single-room occupancy hotels.

More than 10,000 people have died in British Columbia since the toxic drug crisis was declared a public health emergency six years ago.

Advocacy groups say a poisoned supply with no safe alternative and the continued criminalization of drugs are to driving these growing numbers.

“It is overwhelming to see such a large number of people passing away. It’s unprecedented numbers,” said clinical nurse lead Edythe Byers.

She said there are 2,500 active patients at her clinic and the crisis is impacting people from all walks of life as people as young as 13 and up to 90 years of age come in for care.

“Anybody you can think of has access to care with us,” she said.

“So I think there’s a lot of misconceptions about who this is affecting. It’s really affecting everybody and every life is valuable." Top Stories

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