Thursday Dec 22, 2016 


One Life to Live

OD response member performed 100 reversals with naloxone

Ben Haddawy, BCDC/Fraser Health Doug Nickrson photo


n 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.”


Nickerson also 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).

“He 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 naloxne here.

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 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 or follow us on Twitter @PHSAofBC.



New Overdose Prevention Services Open in High Risk Communities

Langley, Abbotsford Maple Ridge overdose protection services good to go

Fraser Health

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 Surrey.

"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 Road

Maple Ridge
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 visit our Overdose Hub.

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.


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