TRURO, N.S. – For Steve Lockhart, it’s a no brainer – naloxone kits should be readily available in all Canadian schools and other public places.
“I am hoping that … I will start a ball rolling for these lifesaving kits to be distributed to all schools and businesses across Canada,” the Truro resident said. “Some day this could be the matter of a child's life being saved or taken.”
Naloxone is used to reverse the effects of an opioid drug overdose.
Opioid use and overdoses have been increasing across the country and last year there were 63 reported deaths in Nova Scotia. As a result, in September 2017 the provincial government began providing naloxone kits free of charge to Nova Scotia pharmacies.
But Lockhart, a former member of the Canadian military who said he has had experience with trauma and overdose victims, believes distribution of the kits should be taken a step further.
Recently, while dropping his son off at a Colchester County elementary school, Lockhart witnessed what he believes was a teenage overdose victim being tended to by teachers who found the male in obvious distress.
While unconfirmed as to whether it involved an overdose situation, Lockhart said, “He looked forward and then his eyes just wandered. The rest of his body was just totally unresponsive…
“I watched them move his head a few times and he just dropped his head like there was no muscle movement at all. I watched him look around sort of and just rolled his eyes. I’ve seen that look. I know that look.”
A spokesperson for the Chignecto-Central Regional Centre for Education (CCRCE) said the incident Lockhart witnessed involved a high school student who was waiting for a bus and required medical attention. But Jennifer Rodgers said privacy concerns prevent her from proving specific details.
Although Lockhart could not confirm it was an actual overdose, he nonetheless feels the threat of such an incident occurring in a school or other public setting is great enough that the naloxone kits should be more widely distributed.
“I would be inclined to agree,” said Crystal Marryatt, a pharmacist with the Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy in Truro.
“It’s not something that can cause a lot of harm and it’s something that can save somebody’s life.”
Although Marryatt said it would be up to school officials to make the decision to have naloxone kits on hand, she believes the concept does have merit.
“I believe it’s a great idea,” she said. “Anyone who feels they might have need of one should pick one up.”
Naloxone is a fast-acting drug that reverses the effects of a narcotic by binding to the opioid receptors and deactivating them.
The kits are available free of charge through pharmacies upon request. They come with two vials of naloxone, two needles and latex gloves and anyone who picks one up is given a brief training session.
In the case Lockhart witnessed, Rodgers said EHS paramedics were called and the student was taken to hospital for observation.
As for having the naloxone kits placed in all schools, however, Rodgers said there is no movement currently in effect to make that happen.
“We do not have naloxone kits onsite at our schools. At all CCRCE schools and offices, the first call is to 911 if a serious medical issue or concern occurs,” she said. “The diagnosis and administration of medicine is left to medical professionals.”