Earlier in June, the Advanced Coronary Treatment Foundation announced that its new training program on opioid overdose response will be added to the CPR and automated external defibrillator training offered for free in high schools across Canada.
As a result, hundreds of thousands of high school students in Canada will receive training on how to respond to an opioid overdose through the administration of naloxone, a drug used to reverse the effects of overdoses.
In addition to learning how to use the naloxone (nasal spray), students will also learn about opioids and when to call 911, when to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation and when to administer naloxone. Initially, the training will be administered in Quebec, Alberta, Ontario, and British Columbia, and will then be expanded to other provinces.
“The [opioid] crisis is very real,” said Jocelyn Barriault, the medical director of the foundation, in a recent interview.
“Cardiac arrests, it doesn’t happen to young people that much,” she added. “But with opioids, there’s a lot of chance that it’s a peer, that it happens at school or at a party.”
Moreover, Barriault said that in the case where a young person is confronted with someone suffering from heart failure, they will be trained on how to administer naloxone nasally. “And we hope it’s going to work; but if we don’t do anything, it’s clear it won’t.” She also noted that the training program was developed after a successful pilot project in Ottawa with 186 students and 15 teachers in 2019, and will serve as an opportunity to teach young people how to react in emergency situations and about the risks of opioids.
Data released by the Public Health Agency of Canada indicates that there were over 5,386 deaths related to opioids reported between January and September 2021, with 94% of these deaths being accidental.
Furthermore, according to Carole Nadeau, who is leading the training program in Quebec, between 1,000 to 1,500 Quebec teachers will be trained on teaching the program to about 70,000 students each year in the province.
“We have done training at 141 schools, which represents 405 teachers that are ready to teach all of their students about opioids,” she said. “It’s a lot of people.”