Police and Naloxone – Prioritizing Those with Badges

Photo credit: Sarah Sheridan
Photo credit: Sarah Sheridan

This week the public learned that the Royal Canadian Mountain Police will soon be carrying nasal Naloxone (or Narcan), the antidote for an opioid overdose.

The provincial government made a statement on their website: “We strongly commend the RCMP for proceeding with a national rollout of naloxone for both their member’s safety, as part of their personal protective equipment, but also for emergency treatment of known or suspected opioid overdoses among the members of the public.” But why are the police being congratulated when the lives of those using these drugs weren’t the first priority?

The video, released by the RCMP, tells the story of Constable Rob Dupuis, an RCMP officer in BC, arresting a man for possession of a controlled substance, after the man was found “slumped over in the driver’s seat behind the wheel” in his car. Afterwards Dupuis searched the man’s car and became unwell after being exposed to open unregulated drugs identified by the man arrested as Fentanyl. The video doesn’t speak to the health and wellbeing of the man arrested nor does it mention how this arrest and follow-up charges will affect his family, job, or housing.

The RCMP, and the Vancouver Police Department, have chosen not to carry injectable Naloxone despite the very-publicized public health emergency. This past June VPD Constable Brian Montague said in an interview with the CBC that “We just have a real safety concern for our offices in providing an injection. We’re not health care professionals.” At the time, the VPD was open to nasal Naloxone and was waiting for Health Canada to make it available. And this past July Health Canada announced a temporary measure to allow nasal Naloxone.

But it wasn’t until RCMP officers saw the negative effects of Fentanyl on themselves that they decided to change their practice. After all, whose lives are worth saving?

See below for more Volcano article about the Fentanyl crisis:

August 31st Overdose Awareness Day – A Day of Reflection, a Push for Action: By Sarah Sheridan

Overdose deaths provoke a public health emergency declaration but no action: By Volcano editors

BC’s Public Health Emergency Update: By the Editors

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