A report issued by the University of Alberta about naloxone has caused concern among residents that Edmonton Police Service (EPS) officers are choosing not to administer the life-saving medication. The report is based on interviews conducted with EPS and Calgary Police Service (CPS) officers between 2018 and 2019.
Those interviews do not reflect EPS’ current response to the opioid crisis.
EPS officers regularly administer naloxone and save lives across the city. All shift supervisors carry naloxone kits, and all divisional stations and holding cells have kits on hand. Holding cells also have an on-site paramedic in the event a detained person experiences an overdose after they have been taken into custody.
Because naloxone is temperature sensitive, not all officers carry it, as it can be difficult to maintain a consistent temperature during a long shift on the street. The EPS does not currently have enough naloxone kits to supply every officer with a kit. However, more officers are choosing to carry naloxone kits during their shifts, particularly in areas where police regularly encounter opioid use. In addition to naloxone, all EPS marked vehicles are equipped with bag valve masks to allow officers to safely provide respiration until Emergency Medical Services (EMS) arrives.
The EPS works closely with EMS and Edmonton Fire Rescue (EFD) to ensure medical treatment is available for overdose incidents.
Use of naloxone by EPS
Officers currently have access to naloxone that is effective in temporarily counteracting an opioid overdose and takes from 2 to 5 minutes to work. Under certain circumstances, multiple doses of naloxone may be required. EMS is always called when naloxone is given.
Between January and November 2021:
- The Human-Centred Engagement Partnership teams (HELP) has responded to over 60 overdoses.Naloxone was administered by the HELP team in 57 of these instances and by EMS in three of these instances.
- Downtown Division members have administered multiple doses of naloxone on 33 occasions.
- Northwest Division members have been involved with 23 overdose incidents.
The EPS is developing a method of tracking naloxone use more consistently across the service.
The EPS is working to supply all frontline officers with naloxone kits. In the meantime, EPS officers will continue to administer naloxone and work closely with EMS to respond urgently to overdose incidents.