Toronto police begin deploying naloxone to battle opioid overdoses
Uniformed police join paramedics, firefighters in carrying the potentially life-saving drug
Toronto police say they have started to phase in the deployment of naloxone by uniformed officers in the city's downtown core — the potentially life-saving medication that can temporarily block the effects of opioids and prevent overdose deaths.
"A phased rollout assists in alleviating public and officer concerns regarding opioid safety issues, particularly in neighbourhoods surrounding supervised consumption sites," Toronto Police Service Inspector Paul MacIntyre said in a news release.
"It's important we provide our members with this lifesaving drug until medical assistance is available."
The announcement comes in the midst of what some are calling an epidemic of opioid overdoses on the streets of the city. A study released in April suggests opioid-related deaths tripled in Ontario between 2001 and 2015.
"Uniformed members, in this first phase of deployment, will be able to help those who find themselves in an overdose situation, by administering naloxone, then helping them get the follow-up medical attention they will need once consciousness is regained," MacIntyre said.
The police's deployment of naloxone will target the downtown core, where they say overdose calls are the highest.