The Opioid Emergency Response Task Force is issuing a public safety alert. Through information received from emergency services, an increase in suspected opioid overdoses has been identified in Timmins and the surrounding area.

An opioid overdose occurs when an individual ingests more of a substance, or combination of substances, that interferes with breathing and brain function. “Recognizing an overdose and having naloxone at hand can save lives,” says Dr. Lianne Catton, the Porcupine Health Unit’s Medical Officer of Health,

“we urge family and friends of people who use drugs, and all parents, to increase the conversation around the risks of any drug use, especially opioids. We all play a critical role in improving community awareness and preventing tragic outcomes.”

Although naloxone can temporarily reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, it wears off within 30 to 90 minutes, so it is important to seek further medical attention. There are other ways to reduce the risks of an overdose, including not using alone, using small doses, and avoiding mixing substances. People who use drugs, and their family and friends, should be familiar with the signs and symptoms of overdose and how to provide first aid, including administering naloxone.

If you suspect an overdose, call 911 immediately, administer naloxone if available, and wait for help to arrive. Inspector Darren Dinel adds that, “As part of our commitment to public safety, the Timmins Police Service is keenly aware of the frequency and severity of occurrences involving opiates and the potential for lethal harm associated with the consumption of such substances. Each Timmins Police Service officer is equipped with, and trained in the proper and efficient use of Naloxone.

That said, anyone present during an event of this nature or rendering assistance to anyone in an apparent overdose crisis need not fear the imminent arrival or presence of the police or abandon their first aid efforts. These persons are protected by the general provisions of the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act in keeping with the statute’s intention of preserving the wellbeing of persons in medical distress.

Please refer to the following link to serve as a general explanation of the act and its inherent intentions: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/publications/healthy-living/good-samaritan-drug-overdose-act-poster.html

The focal point of the act is to allow for persons to render assistance in situations of dire need where immediate action is required. The fact that the police are on scene or about to attend should not inhibit or interfere with these efforts.” The Good Samaritan Act provides protection from arrest and breaches for simple possession.

Free Naloxone kits are readily available throughout the area at Porcupine Health Unit offices, Living Space, and at many pharmacies. A list of sites is available at: https://www.ontario.ca/page/get-naloxone-kits-free.

The Timmins and Area Drug Strategy is a collaboration with several key community partners in health and social service sectors working to comprehensively address opioid and substance use within our communities. The Opioid Emergency Response Task Force are members of the Timmins and Area Drug Strategy who surveil and collect data that may warrant response through public alerts, increased naloxone distribution, and information for people who use substances and their loved ones

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