First responders taking strides to better understand opioid abuse

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Lakeland first responders are getting an in-depth look at fentanyl and other opioids.

With the growing concern regarding fentanyl and other drugs in Alberta, Portage College and the RCMP partnered together to host a seminar to educate those seeing it first-hand through their work environment.

According to Shelley Jackson, program coordinator for Portage public legal education, the session on Dec. 7 is directed toward first responders such as EMS, RCMP, and hospital staff.

“We had a session in Lac La Biche last January, which was very well attended. It came out through requests from the community members who were very concerned about the news of the number of opioid overdoses they saw happening,” she explained, adding responders from Bonnyville and Cold Lake made the trip for the session, which was one of the reasons why they’re looking forward to hosting one locally.

“The intent was for first responders, people who are working front lines, to have information on what was happening in Alberta with fentanyl and other drugs of abuse,” Jackson detailed.

Giving the presentation are Cpl. Brad McIntosh and Sgt. Mike Polegi from the RCMP “K” Division. McIntosh is a member of the RCMP Clandestine Lab Enforcement Response team, while Polegi works as the Undercover Coordinator for “K” Division.

They spend a day reviewing police protocols, legal ramifications, laws concerning criminal negligence causing death, drug trends, the overdose act, and the emergency medical aid act, among others.

Topics will focus on substances such as fentanyl, marijuana, cannabis resin, cocaine, meth, MDMA, heroine, and pills.

Jackson said they cover “a lot of laws and medical procedures,” while including how people are getting their hands on the equipment to make and distribute opioids.

The session is geared towards first responders because, “they wanted to focus on service providers and other professionals that may come across this in their workplace and have to deal with it,” added Jackson.

The event is free, and will be held on Friday, Dec. 7 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Cold Lake Energy Centre.

Portage is asking anyone interested register with Jackson before the event by calling 780-623-5680.

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