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SFU Safety and Risk Services to add Naloxone training to community first aid programming

August 31, 2021
Narcan, a form of Naloxone used to combat the effects of opioids.

As B.C. continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, another public health crisis continues to take lives. Declared a provincial emergency in 2016, the overdose epidemic has impacted everyone in the province, including people in the SFU community.

Facing a full return to campus this fall, SFU Safety and Risk Services (SRS) has turned its attention to enhancing on-campus harm reduction. As part of these enhancements, SRS will soon offer free Naloxone training for SFU students, faculty and staff.

Naloxone is a medication that can block or reverse the effects of opioids, and can be administered through Narcan, a brand of nasal spray. In the case of an overdose, the application of Naloxone must be administered within a very short time frame—and while waiting for support from emergency services, an individual carrying and trained in delivering Narcan can save a life.

While all Campus Public Safety responders are already trained in this procedure, SRS wanted to extend this training to members of the community through SRS’s first aid courses which teach CPR and how to use an AED (automated external defibrillator). With a tainted drug supply, the risk of drug poisoning and accidental overdose is significant, even when it comes to occasional recreational substance use.

“We were well positioned to expand our existing first aid course and it seemed to be a natural opportunity to include Naloxone in our training,” says Andrea Ringrose, acting senior director of campus public safety. “My hope is that this training will educate and empower the community, and that we can also reduce stigma and normalize reaching out for help.”

Ringrose also acknowledges the importance of mental health supports in harm reduction and overdose prevention, as well as the importance of empathy, connection and community in creating a safe campus environment.

“Equipping individuals to intervene, sharing that responsibility and caring for one another is something that we definitely want to contribute to.”