Forty grams of car­fen­tanyl seized at in­sti­tu­tion last month

The Drumheller Mail - - FRONT PAGE - Pa­trick Ko­lafa The Drumheller Mail

The opi­oid cri­sis con­tin­ues to grip the prov­ince as a cor­rec­tional of­fi­cer union rep says nearly 40 grams of car­fen­tanyl was seized last month.

In the first half of 2018, 355 Al­ber­tans have died from ac­ci­den­tal over­doses, and hun­dreds more have been brought back from the brink through the ad­min­is­tra­tion of an an­ti­dote.

One place lo­cally where Drumheller res­i­dents see the ef­fect of the cri­sis is at the Drumheller In­sti­tu­tion. Last month of­fi­cers were able to seize nearly 40 grams of car­fen­tanyl.

“That is ba­si­cally enough to kill a city,” said James Bloom­field, re­gional pres­i­dent of the Union of Cana­dian Cor­rec­tional Of­fi­cers. “That amount is in­sane. Car­fen­tanyl is the evil brother of fen­tanyl.”

Bloom­field says what is hap­pen­ing in the Drumheller In­sti­tu­tion is re­flec­tive of the rest of the prov­ince.

“We still have an is­sue at the site, not as much re­sult­ing in death, that’s for sure,” he said. “The of­fi­cers, I don’t know how they have been able to save ev­ery­thing they have.”

He says there have been 23 over­doses in 2018 that of­fi­cers be­lieve were re­lated di­rectly to fen­tanyl.

“We are in the po­si­tion that an over­dose is not an ab­nor­mal oc­cur­rence at that site. The over­doses are from snort­ing that stuff, it is not from in­ject­ing,” he said. “The gov­ern­ment is try­ing to start a nee­dle ex­change pro­gram in­side, it is in­sane, and has noth­ing to do with any of the drugs we are deal­ing with right now.”

He says this year there have been 11 pieces of mail that have been seized and tested pos­i­tive for the drug.

“It can be a tiny amount of pow­der. It can be mixed, it can be un­mixed. There are so many dif­fer­ent va­ri­eties. In­side of a prison sys­tem, you have to be aware. First of all, they are mix­ing it so it is go­ing to be ex­ag­ger­ated com­pared to the street. They au­to­mat­i­cally cut it to get it in­side, and once it is in­side they have to cut it some more. It is prob­lem­atic be­cause it is not only fen­tanyl or car­fen­tanyl, it is also the mix­ture of things they put into it,” he ex­plains.

He says of­fi­cers have ac­cess to emer­gency med­i­ca­tions which block the ef­fects of opi­oids, such as Nar­can or Nalox­one, and are trained to ad­min­is­ter it. He says of­ten they are ad­min­is­ter­ing three or four doses to keep the pa­tient go­ing un­til they can get med­i­cal at­ten­tion.

“We are hav­ing very sig­nif­i­cant over­doses on a fairly reg­u­lar ba­sis out of Drumheller specif­i­cally, and the re­cent seizure, it’s not slow­ing down. It is just a mat­ter of time un­til we have an­other mass over­dose. Un­for­tu­nately the pres­sure it puts on the of­fi­cers is tremen­dous,” he said.

He adds there is not 24hour health­care fa­cil­i­ties at the in­sti­tu­tion.

“We are the paramedics, we are the fire­fight­ers, we are the po­lice of­fi­cers be­hind those walls. Not to take away any­thing from those jobs or in­di­vid­u­als, but we deal with ev­ery as­pect of that,” he said.

He cred­its the of­fi­cers for their ded­i­ca­tion that have saved lives.

“I truly be­lieve it is be­cause of in­di­vid­u­als who work on the site, that the at­tempted num­bers are as low as they are. Deaths have been very, very rare at that site,” he said.

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