Public safety and security team equipped to respond to drug-related emergencies
Naloxone is now more accessible across the George Brown College (GBC) campuses as public security and safety staff have been equipped with kits and were trained in its administration.
Naloxone is a medication that temporarily blocks or reverses the effects of opioids such as heroin or fentanyl, which can include extreme drowsiness, loss of consciousness and slowing or stopping of breathing.
Karen Thomson, GBC’s vice-president of corporate services, said opioids are a major health concern nationally and at the college. This is because it poses a threat to students or anyone using the different forms of the substance.
“We know that naloxone can actually save lives and want to ensure that we’ve done everything possible to prevent harm,” said Thomson, explaining the need for the emergency response medication on campus.
The college decided to involve its security guards as they are the ones usually active in handling emergencies.
“Our security functions are 24/7, including digital surveillance as well,” said Thomson. “It’s necessary for our guards to know about any medical emergency happening.”
Stacey Andrews, manager of public safety and security at the college, said that all guards have received training on how to use the naloxone kits.
“The intervention cost is small.” said Thomson. “A naloxone kit itself is $100 and in fact they’re available to members of the public in drug stores.”
“So for us, the bigger investment is in educating and supporting individual students who need the support to ensure they aren’t being harmed by substances,” she added.
According to Thomson, there have not been any reported cases of an overdose on college property so far.
Nevertheless, GBC is active in not only being ready to respond to one but also educating students about drug use.
“We have a responsibility, as George Brown College, to make sure you understand what the consequences and potential risks associated with those choices are,” said Chris McGrath, vice president of student success.
GBC’s offices also recently received naloxone kits as the college aims to improve efforts and increase conversation around harm reduction.
“Throughout our campuses, students can access free counseling for any challenges they are facing, whether (or not) they are related to substance use.” continued McGrath.
McGrath noted that Peerconnect services are available as well for those in need of support.
He indicated that GBC is set to launch a new website focused on harm reduction, in light of the legalization of cannabis.
As policy regarding naloxone continues to evolve throughout the province, “We are evolving to fully understanding all of these in our college,” said McGrath.
Thomson said if there’s an emergency involving an overdose, people should call 911 and alert security so they can respond to the situation.