High school students to receive opioid overdose response training

Jun 14, 2022 | Headlines, News

Canadian high school students can get free training in applying the anti-opioid spray drug naloxone from the Advanced Coronary Treatment (ACT) Foundation’s overdose response training.

The training would teach students to administer nasal naloxone spray for the treatment of a known or suspected opioid overdose emergency.

The training will instruct students about opioids, opioid overdoses, and recognizing and responding to a suspected opioid overdose. The students will also learn about naloxone and how it works, contacting 911, and performing CPR if needed.

Dr. Michael Austin, national medical director at ACT, said in a press release the training will enhance the students’ “lifesaving toolbox.”

“The opioid crisis is a complex issue and causes many of the opioid-related harms and deaths,” he said. “Recognizing a suspected opioid overdose and knowing how to respond can help save lives.”

According to the Centre for Mental Health (CAMH), naloxone is a medication that can temporarily reverse the effects of an opioid overdose and allow time for medical help to arrive. Opioid overdoses have specific indications like breathing problems, severe sleepiness, or non-responsiveness.

Rob Kilfoyle, director of public safety and emergency management at Humber College, said the announcement is a welcome addition to the measures that are already out there.

“I think educating them about the signs and symptoms of someone who is experiencing an opioid overdose would be helpful, they will know how to properly respond and ultimately get help,” Kilfoyle said.

He said high school students and young adults sometimes take narcotics or pills do not have any knowledge about the dangerous negative reactions associated with the drugs.

“There’s a party culture that exists, they need to be made aware of the risks,” Kilfoyle said.

He said opioid overdoses have not been a major concern at Humber College, but other institutions and locations in the Toronto area have had frequent instances.

He said Humber College has an opioid overdose policy which includes providing training to the security staff and personnel on naloxone. Naloxone is available in the first aid kits at the health centre to help with any incidents of opioid overdoses.

“It’s a problem that isn’t going away anytime soon, and I think the more people that have access to the training of naloxone, it can make a real difference,” he said.

According to Health Canada, more than 5,368 apparent opioid toxicity deaths occurred between January and September 2021, and 94 per cent of opioid overdose deaths happen by accident.

Young Canadians aged 15 to 24 are the fastest-growing population requiring hospital care from opioid overdoses.

The training will be an addition to ACT Foundation’s cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and automated external defibrillator (AED) programs offered in high schools.

The ACT Foundation is a national charitable organization which offers free CPR and AED training in Canadian high schools. It works with communities across Canada to establish long-term, self-sustaining programs to empower students to save lives through financial support from private and public organizations.