‘A matter of time’: N.B. health officials preparing for potential fentanyl crisis
Health officials in New Brunswick say they're preparing first responders to prepare for fentanyl overdoses.
Chris Hood, the executive director of the Paramedics Association of New Brunswick, says it takes minutes to find fentanyl or the much more potent Carfentanil online.
“I can purchase it through Amazon or one of those online companies,” Hood said. “I think it was $1,000 for 200 grams of the drug and they'll send it to you in the mail.”
Hood says he knows this by doing his own research on the drug. He feels officials are blind if they don't think the growing problem is coming to the province.
“I think it's probably here already. It's just a matter of time,” Hood said. “We're seeing that shift across the country. Recently we've been in contact with our colleagues in Ontario and its starting to move in there. It's in Winnipeg quite prevalent again now. So it's starting that march across the country.”
Paramedics in the province have had the remedy – Narcan – on their trucks for about a decade.
But in Fredericton, neither fire nor police are equipped with the antidote.
“We know we aren't immune from these types of trends here, and it is certainly on our watch list for 2017,” said a Fredericton Fire and police spokesperson in a statement.
Meanwhile, New Brunswick RCMP are on the ready.
"We've already received naloxone kits. They've already been distributed to our front line members,” said Const. Hans Ouellette And we've also had training on how to use those kits and how to use naloxone which is a nasal spray."
Four hundred frontline RCMP officers have the kits with them now at all times. The paramedics association says they would support those kits being available to the general public, as well.
“I consider it a lot like defibrillators. Anywhere that you would see a public access defibrillator you could potentially see public access Narcan,” Hood said.
According to the Nova Scotia Medical Examiner Service, there were 13 fentanyl-implicated deaths between 2009 and 2014. In New Brunswick, there were five in the same time frame, according to this province's chief coroner.
The health department says it's on their radar for 2017.
“This is an important public health concern and government departments, the health care system and partners in the community are working together to ensure the province is prepared for if / when there is a fentanyl crisis in New Brunswick,” the Department of Health said in a statement.
New Brunswick RCMP say they've been seeing fentanyl in the form of a patch or mixed in with another drug. The kits of Narcan are also available at New Brunswick pharmacies.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Laura Brown.