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Health unit reports increase in suspected opioid overdoses in Cochrane District

Increases in demand for naloxone have also been seen in the region
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The Opioid Emergency Response Task Force continues to see increased rates of suspected opioid overdose within the Cochrane District and wishes to remind the public, people who use, and their friends and family that powerful opioids and other toxic substances continue to be circulating in the area.

An alert was previously issued April 29, 2020, due to a high volume of calls related to suspected opioid overdose. Increases in demand for naloxone have also been seen in the region.

“While working within the COVID-19 pandemic, the CDEMS has also responded to several suspected opioid overdoses that required resuscitation. These situations are both preventable and tragic,” says Jean Carrière, Paramedic Chief of Cochrane District EMS, “if CDEMS were to distribute or replenish Naloxone it would decrease the mortality rate and facilitate those in need.”

Dr. Lianne Catton, the Porcupine Health Unit’s Medical Officer of Health, reports that, “While the COVID-19 pandemic has led to significant and unprecedented changes for everyone, we cannot lose sight of the ongoing and often disproportionate impacts on those who use substances; or are coping with issues such as housing or food insecurity. The opioid crisis remains a significant concern for PHU communities. We continue to work with all community partners to ensure naloxone is available across all communities and increase the conversation around mental health and substance use.”

Brian Marks, Chief Administrative Officer of the Cochrane District Social Services Administration Board adds, “In our effort to end homelessness, opioid addiction is proving to be not only the main limiting factor, but also the key risk when it comes to service delivery, client survival, and public understanding.”

If you suspect an overdose, call 911 immediately, administer naloxone if available, and wait for help to arrive. The Good Samaritan Act provides protection from arrest and breaches for simple possession. The Opioid Emergency Response Task Force are members of the Timmins and Area Drug Strategy who survey and report on data that may warrant response through public alerts, increased naloxone distribution, and information for people who use substances and their loved ones. Data is collected from area emergency departments, first responders and partner agencies.

The Timmins and Area Drug Strategy is a collaboration with several key community partners in health and social service sectors working to comprehensively address opioid and substance use within our communities. People who use drugs, and their family and friends, should be familiar with the signs and symptoms of overdose and how to provide first aid, including administering naloxone.

Free Naloxone kits are readily available throughout the area at Porcupine Health Unit offices and at many pharmacies. A list of sites is available at: