his four years using the drug naloxone to reverse opioid overdoses in
the area known as “the strip” in Surrey, Doug Nickerson says a few
reversals stand out.
“I went to visit
a friend one night and this couple went out and bought some heroin,”
said Nickerson. “They came back, did it, and overdosed simultaneously.”
remembers bringing back 12 people during one particularly bad weekend
when he says fentanyl had been mixed with crack cocaine. Another time he
used naloxone to revive a 16 year old girl who had overdosed.
“I don’t go anywhere without a naloxone kit,” says Nickerson. “I hang a
kit on my belt loop and away I go. Always have it.”
Fifty-eight year old Nickerson, or “Little Doug” to the people who know
him, has reversed 113 overdoses using naloxone, and has himself been
given naloxone five times. Nickerson is a “peer”, somebody with lived
experience who provides important perspectives on harm reduction
services delivered by the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC).
is one of the ‘Harm Reduction Heroes’ of BC’s Take Home Naloxone
Program,” said Dr. Jane Buxton, program lead at the BCCDC. “The purpose
of the program is to ensure there is a supply of naloxone in the
community where overdoses are happening, empowering people so they can
help prevent opioid overdose deaths. Doug embodies that and shows how
community members truly care about each other.”
The Take Home Naloxone program has seen exponential growth in recent
months. In 2013, the first full year of the program, 617 kits were
dispensed. So far in 2016, BCCDC has distributed 13,324 kits to
individuals who have been trained in overdose recognition and response.
Some weeks, as many as 2,500 kits are sent out the door to harm
reduction sites across the province.
“The Take Home Naloxone program is an important part of BC’s response to
the opioid overdose crisis that has taken the lives of far too many
people,” said Dr. Mark Tyndall, provincial executive director with the
BCCDC. “Work is also underway to improve access to treatments like
Suboxone and methadone, and to establish additional supervised
consumption services. A lot of work has been achieved and we know there
is still more to be done.”
Quick Facts: Take-Home Naloxone Program
Established August 2012
• THN kits contain items including syringes, three single-dose
ampoules of naloxone, alcohol swabs, gloves, mask.
• As of December 2016, the THN program distributes kits to 384
locations across BC including:
• 56 First Nations
• 57 emergency departments
• 7 corrections facilities
• 18,703 naloxone kits dispensed since 2012.
• 16,464 people trained to administer naloxone since 2012.
Learn more about
The BC Centre for Disease Control, an agency of the Provincial Health
Services Authority, provides provincial and national leadership in
public health through surveillance, detection, treatment, prevention and
consultation services. The Centre provides both direct diagnostic and
treatment services for people with diseases of public health importance
and analytical and policy support to all levels of government and health
authorities. For more information, please visit
www.bccdc.ca or follow us on Twitter @CDCofBC.
The Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) plans, manages and
evaluates selected specialty and province-wide health care services
across BC, working with the five geographic health authorities to
deliver province-wide solutions that improve the health of British
Columbians. For more information, visit
www.phsa.ca or follow us on Twitter @PHSAofBC.
New Overdose Prevention
Services Open in High Risk Communities
Langley, Abbotsford Maple Ridge overdose protection services good to
Overdose Update #5
SURREY - Fraser Health is implementing temporary overdose prevention
services in Langley, Abbotsford and Maple Ridge today, recognizing the
need to act quickly to respond to the ongoing public health emergency
and to respond to the negative impacts of cold weather on our vulnerable
populations. The decision follows the Minister of Health's extraordinary
measure to support the creation of overdose prevention services.
"The need to act quickly in the face of the ongoing elevated overdose
numbers is paramount," said Health Minister Terry Lake. "Overdose
prevention services help save lives by ensuring people with the skills
to respond are in close proximity in the event an overdose happens."
In addition to the enhanced emergency measures that were implemented in
Surrey last week, Fraser Health has selected four new temporary
locations following a careful analysis of overdose data to determine the
communities where the need is greatest at this time. Fraser Health will
continue with feasibility assessments for permanent supervised
consumption services (SCS) in high risk communities but currently has no
immediate plans to implement additional SCS other than the two proposed
locations in Surrey.
Overdose prevention services include emergency health resources and
outreach personnel to prevent and reverse overdoses and to get people
out of the cold weather. These services will be available at existing
high risk settings such as shelters, and on an outreach basis to monitor
and observe people at risk for overdose and respond immediately to
health concerns. There will be no supervision of illicit drug
consumption. This is an emergency strategy in locations where injections
and overdose risk already exist.
Between January and November of this year, there have been 24 overdose
deaths in Langley, 32 in Abbotsford, 25 in Maple Ridge, and 92 in
"These emergency measures are essential for our at-risk populations to
be monitored and treated if they overdose," said Fraser Health chief
medical health officer Dr. Victoria Lee. "The services are part of our
ongoing strategy to respond to the overdose crisis with data-driven and
evidence-based approaches to caring for people who use substances."
Locations for the sites include:
Gateway of Hope (Salvation Army) - 5787 Langley Bypass
Riverside Shelter (Lookout Emergency Aid Society) - 1640 Riverside
Maple Ridge Temporary Homeless Shelter (RainCity Housing and Support
Society) - 22239 Lougheed Highway; and Salvation Army's Ridge
Meadows Ministries Shelter - 22188 Lougheed Highway
Fraser Health has a multi-faceted strategy
to address the overdose emergency, including all approaches from
prevention, harm reduction and treatment. We have public awareness
campaigns, the implementation of supervised consumption services, and
the expansion of opioid substitution treatment in Surrey, Abbotsford and
Maple Ridge. We have also opened dozens of substance use beds in our
region over the last 18 months, and we are on track to open another 100
beds in 2017. We are working to embed opioid substitution treatment into
residential substance use disorder services and, across our region, we
have 56 sites equipped to distribute Take Home Naloxone, including all
of our Emergency Departments and Public Health units. We have also
developed and implemented a safe prescription policy for opioids in all
Emergency Departments across the region.
Fraser Health is working closely with community partners including the
BC Emergency Health Services, St. John's Ambulance, the Salvation Army,
RainCity Housing and Support Society, Lookout Emergency Aid Society and
RCMP. For more information on Fraser Health's overdose response, please
The overdose prevention services are one of the provincial government's
latest steps in response to the opioid overdose crisis. In July 2016,
Premier Christy Clark appointed a Joint Task Force on Overdose Response,
headed by provincial health officer Dr. Perry Kendall and director of
police services Clayton Pecknold. The task force is providing expert
leadership and advice to the Province on additional actions to prevent
and respond to overdoses in British Columbia. As part of the response,
law enforcement is working at all levels of government to interdict the
supply of toxic drugs, and health officials are working to address the
immediate and longer-term health needs. To that end, B.C. is expanding
access to life-saving naloxone, supervised consumption services, and
opioid addiction treatment medications and services.
Under the task force, the Province launched a broad campaign to alert
people of how to prevent, identify and respond to overdoses. It is also
investing in research, education and training through the new B.C.
Centre on Substance Use to make sure addiction treatment is effective
and evidence-based. Ongoing work to support and treat British Columbians
with substance use issues is also a key part of the province's response.
Government is committed to meeting the goal of opening 500 new substance
use treatment beds in 2017. In the past two years, more than 220 new
beds have been opened as part of this commitment to provide better
access to appropriate substance use supports.
The Valley Voice News | All