Students and teachers across Canada will receive training on administering naloxone to combat overdoses


An organization that works with schools across Canada to create training programs on CPR and defibrillators is now looking to offer naloxone training programs to teachers and high school students.

The program will teach high school students about opioids, how to recognize a suspected overdose and how to administer a naloxone nasal spray.

Naloxone is a drug that can temporarily reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

The Advanced Coronary Treatment (ACT) Foundation has already conducted a pilot project in Ottawa schools.

« The students have responded very positively, » said ACT executive director Sandra Clarke, who attended the classes. « The majority of students thought it was important training for them. They thought it was relevant to them. »

Young Canadians hospitalized at faster rate

Between January and September of last year, at least 5,368 Canadians died of ‘apparent opioid toxicity’, which is how the Public Health Agency of Canada classifies addiction-related deaths involving an opioid. .

The number of deaths has soared during the pandemic, as people have experienced increased isolation, stress and struggles, and illicit drugs have become increasingly harmful.

ACT Foundation chief executive Sandra Clarke said she will bring the program to secondary schools across Canada following a successful pilot program in Ottawa. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

According to the ACT, young Canadians between the ages of 18 and 24 are the fastest growing population requiring hospital care for a suspected opioid overdose.

« It happens to their friends or loved ones – not intentionally, but accidentally, » said ACT National Medical Director Dr. Michael Austin.

« I think it’s really, really important that this population not only have these tools and the skills to be able to react, but the cultural change just to act. »

A free course will be offered to school boards across Canada who will train teachers, who then train students, in a combination of online and in-class courses.

ACT has offered its CPR and defibrillator training programs in more than 1,800 high schools across Canada, and said the opioid overdose program would be an « improvement. »

The program is partially funded by Health Canada’s Substance Use and Addictions Program.

Windsor-Essex school boards have not joined the program

Clarke said the ACT is working with school boards across the country to begin offering teacher training programs. She thinks teachers could then start training students in the fall.

But the program still faces at least one major hurdle before being offered by some school boards.

« We have been contacted by the ACT Foundation, however, until we are directed by the provincial government, we have no plans to offer naloxone kits or training to our students, » said a spokesperson for the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board.

The board does not currently have naloxone kits inside its schools.

Dr. Michael Austin, ACT’s national medical director, said training high school students in the use of naloxone could help reduce the number of deaths among young Canadians. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

Employees of the Greater Essex County District School Board (GECDSB) receive training on how to administer naloxone, but it is not currently engaged with the ACT Foundation.

« We have many employees through our health and safety training program who are trained in the administration of naloxone, which they receive through the program offered by our supplier, Second Chance CPR, » a doorman said. -word of the GECDSB.

« Second Chance does all of our training, even in the high skill specialty courses, where some students receive the naloxone training, as well as CPR and AED [automated external defibrillator]. »

Students would appreciate the training program

Keeley Janisse is a student at Walkerville Collegiate in Windsor, Ont., who thinks the naloxone training would be « incredible. »

“Being more aware of the drug crisis — especially opioids, because it’s so dangerous — could definitely help the community,” Janisse said.

« I think that would be a really good idea, » said Grade 11 student Ivano Richards. « If something happens like an emergency or something, if someone had opioids and they had an overdose, that would be a really good idea. »

Tim Baxter, an addictions counselor at Crossroads: Center for Personal Empowerment in Windsor, Ont., holds a naloxone kit. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

Year 9 student Jarrod Cagan said he too would welcome the training, although he said he thought it was unlikely anyone would overdose at school.

« On the slight chance that someone does, it would be very useful for someone who knows how to treat him with this kit to help him. Also, if he has a family member who uses drugs and he overdoses, he knows how to use it. »

Sign of a growing crisis, says addiction expert

Tim Baxter knows the power of opioids and the benefits of being trained in the use of a naloxone kit.

« I had a client come here who overdosed on the floor, » said Baxter, a counselor who works with recovering people, as he sat in his office at the Crossroads Center for Personal Empowerment in Windsor.

« It was very shocking to see this and understand what was going on. »

Baxter said he used his kit and stabilized the person, while contacting 911.

« It’s a pretty sad situation when you think about the fact that now we’re training high school kids to be able to use a lifesaving tool that was facilitated by their choice of friends, » he said. he declares.

Baxter said he supports school-based training, but is aware that some people may be hesitant to embrace the program.

« I hope there will be a massive effort to educate not just young people, but also parents, about the dangers of an opioid overdose. »


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