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Canada Mandryk: Regina police response to overdoses shows a path for us all

22:25  24 november  2020
22:25  24 november  2020 Source:   leaderpost.com

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Regina police say they believe fentanyl was involved in all three overdose deaths. Police are also urging anyone who may have information about illegal drug use to contact the Regina Police Service at 306-777-6500 or, if you wish to remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

The Regina Police Service is urging the public to be aware as overdoses in the city continue to climb. Police say that since January, that number has grown to 935 overdoses , although it could be higher because some overdoses don’t involve calls for EMS or other emergency services.

The Regina Police Service released a bold and unusual statement late Monday afternoon.

a sign on the side of a building: Naloxone kits, like the one pictured in this mural, were used by Saskatoon paramedics 49 times in June to reverse opioid overdoses © Provided by Leader Post Naloxone kits, like the one pictured in this mural, were used by Saskatoon paramedics 49 times in June to reverse opioid overdoses

It was one made in the face of a seldom-discussed tragedy going on under our very noses.

It was one that should cause all of us to take a long, hard look in the mirror.

“People are dying in our city from drug overdoses,” the release frankly stated. “They’re not strangers; they are someone’s child, spouse, sibling, or parent. We can all play a role in preventing these needless fatal events.”

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What motivated the startlingly blunt assessment was the RPS sending out staff to four overdose drug deaths Monday:

— “At 7:03 a.m., police responded to the 1000 block of Garnet Street for a deceased 30 year-old male.”

— “At 9:26 a.m., police responded to the 1000 block of Edgar Street for a deceased 32 year-old male.”

— “At 9:45 a.m., police attended to the 800 block of Athol Street for a deceased 36 year-old male.”

— “This afternoon, there was a fourth apparent overdose involving an adult male in the 1200 block of Rae Street.”

Four dead men — three of them dead before most of us had our morning coffee break where we pondered our woeful lot because we are working from our warm homes during this pandemic.

On most days, an OD death or two would go unnoticed. People see the location and move on.

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But maybe four deaths in one city in one day will be a  wakeup call — a reminder that, as Regina police noted, we are talking about someone’s child, parent or sibling. We are talking about someone being dead who shouldn’t be.

It is a good time to pause and maybe reflect on 2020 — to take a long, hard look at what it’s doing to us and why it might be turning us into something we don’t want to be.

A story last month by the StarPhoenix’s Zak Vescera noted that, at that point, Saskatchewan had already seen nearly 300 overdose deaths in 2020 — 122 confirmed overdose fatalities from the start of the year until Oct. 26 according to the Saskatchewan Coroners Service and another 174 suspected deaths. There have been 93 suspected overdose deaths in Regina — 16 in November, alone.

As we watch the daily COVID-19 death count in Saskatchewan (37 out of 6,708 cases, as of Monday), we seem to be missing that the most under-reported story of 2020 might be the overdose crisis.

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Worse, issues of mental health and drug addiction have sometimes been weaponized by those arguing against the economic and social cost of lockdowns. If your newfound interests in overdoses doesn’t expend much beyond political gaslighting, are you any better than whose who argue only a small percentage are dying of COVID-19 and those who die are mostly elderly nursing home residents, anyway?

Come on, people. Be better.

Yes, 2020 has been bad, but that’s no excuse to be unkind to those worse off than you.

In fact, let’s take our lead from the Regina Police Service which displayed true compassion separate from today’s frustrations and politics.

While announcing that the deaths appear unrelated, the RPS statement stressed police believe fentanyl is involved and urged people to “connect with health resources.”

The statement urged all to learn the signs of an opioid overdose including difficulty walking, talking and staying awake, blue lips or nails, pinpoint pupils, clammy skin, dizziness, confusion, weak breathing, choking, gurgling and snoring noises and extreme drowsiness including the inability to to wake up even when shaken.

It stressed immediately calling 9-1-1 and noted the Good Samaritan Overdose Act guards against possession criminal charges for those in distress or trying to provide aid. It further stressed the need to be familiar with Naloxone kits.

In short, it did what we all need to do more of in 2020: Recognize overdoses as a serious issue and be a bit kinder to each other.

Mandryk is the political columnist for the Regina Leader-Post and Saskatoon StarPhoenix.

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Saskatchewan registered almost 500 COVID-19 cases on the weekend . It took 54 days for the province to reach that number of total cases after the first case was announced on March 13. The record 308 new cases on Saturday (followed by another 181 on Sunday) came a day after the Saskatchewan Party government unveiled a much-maligned coronavirus spread reduction strategy quickly mocked for leaving bars open until 11 p.m., failing to address casinos, concerts, bingo halls and churches that have become spreaders and for not extending mandatory mask-wearing orders to communities of fewer than 5,000 people.

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