At the police services board meeting on Thursday, police chief Eric Girt said he will now support giving front line officers Naloxone kits, saying conditions have changed referring to the city’s struggle with ambulance shortages.
“Really what’s changed is the code zeros have increased with EMS and we’ve had a number in January and I don’t see it changing in the near future.”
The city has been struggling with an ambulance shortage because of overcrowded hospitals. 32 times in January and 21 times in February there were only one or no ambulances at all to respond to emergencies. Now police officers will be able to help if they arrive on scene first. Although the chief still believes paramedics are the best equipped to carry the kits because they have the ability to provide medical care.
So far this year there have been 58 suspected opioid overdoses. “The crisis is getting worse not better.” Fred Eisenberger, Hamilton mayor.
Last year more than 75 people died from opioid overdose, putting Hamilton’s death rate at 78% higher than the provincial average.
In late January the province expanded its Naloxone program to include police and fire services. On Monday Hamilton firefighters were approved to carry the kits. Halton and Toronto police will be carrying them too.