Red Deer’s temporary overdose prevention site has no facilities for those who smoke opioids. Instead, people who inhale drugs are encouraged to stay close by in case they need assistance. (File photo by Advocate staff)

Inhalation booths needed in Red Deer for those battling drug addiction

Demand steady at overdose prevention site

Inhalation booths would cut down on the number of opioid smokers who overdose in the community — sometimes right outside the overdose prevention site, which is not equipped for smokers, says an advocate for addicts.

Staying nearby the Rail Lands site means life-saving help is still available.

“We try to really encourage people to use close by, just so we can respond to them if they need it,” said Sarah Fleck, the clinical manager at Turning Point, which runs the site.

“We recognize an OPS that only does injection is a barrier for some people, and so we try to make sure people have naloxone kits, and they’re not using alone, and that they’re using around people they know can help them if they get into medical distress.”

Fleck said staff at the agency’s main downtown office also respond to about two to four overdoses weekly outside their building.

The overdose prevention site has four injection booths where people can safely use previously obtained drugs, while being monitored by someone trained and able to provide immediate life-saving measures as needed.

Until Friday, the number of booths had been reduced to two to comply with COVID-19 distancing restrictions.

The temporary overdose prevention site was the first step toward the city getting a supervised consumption site that would include an inhalation space.

Operation of the overdose prevention site has been extended to Sept. 30, while the provincial government considers changes to supervised consumption services and other addiction treatment and recovery resources.


More drug overdoses are happening in Red Deer with fewer admissions to OPS

Red Deer’s overdose prevention site remains open for now

Fleck said staff are seeing more new faces at the overdose prevention site.

“We definitely aren’t seeing a decrease in demand for service, especially right now, because people in general, in the vulnerable population, have less service options, less places to go, less people who are able to see them and interact with them.”

Having fewer booths available at the overdose prevention site had also been creating capacity problems, she said.

In May, there were 2,747 visits, down from 2,822 visits in April. In May, visits per day averaged 89, compared to 94 in April.

During each month, 211 clients used the service.

Staff assisted in 60 overdose reversals in May, and 91 in April.

Petra Schultz, co-founder of the provincial organization Moms Stop The Harm, said statistics show EMS calls and emergency room visits for opioid overdoses are up in Edmonton and Calgary.

“With Calgary being high and Edmonton being high, I can’t see how Red Deer would be any different,” Schultz said.

She is waiting for the province to release the first quarter opioid surveillance report. Last year, the report was released in June.

“I’m really concerned that the province is not giving us the numbers. How are we going to know what’s happening and how we need to respond, if they don’t release the overdose rates?”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

overdosered deer city

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red Deer up to four active COVID-19 cases

Province announced 77 new confirmed cases across Alberta Friday

Red Deer woman loses student visa, ‘has no choice but to leave’ Canada

Victoria Forschle and her family came to Canada in 2008

Agriculture trade show is a must, says Red Deer chamber

Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce promotes trade show

$21M of improvements to be made to Olds College

More than $21 million in improvements will be made to Olds College,… Continue reading

Canadian economy adds 953,000 jobs in June, unemployment rate falls

OTTAWA — Nearly one million more Canadians had jobs in June than… Continue reading

Survey suggests 40 per cent of Alberta doctors have considered leaving province

CALGARY — A survey by the Alberta Medical Association suggests more than… Continue reading

NHL, NHLPA ratify RTP, CBA extension; Toronto, Edmonton unveiled as hub cities

TORONTO — The NHL remains on course to resume its pandemic-delayed season… Continue reading

Fast-moving Tropical Storm Fay makes landfall in New Jersey

NEW YORK — Fast-moving Tropical Storm Fay made landfall in New Jersey… Continue reading

‘Are you wearing protection?’: Daters struggle with COVID-19 compatibility

WASHINGTON — A federal judge in Baltimore on Friday struck down a… Continue reading

Red Deer sports groups sticking to racially sensitive names for now

Professional sports teams Edmonton Eskimos and Washington Redskins are reviewing their team names

Genetic non-discrimination law is constitutional, Supreme Court says

OTTAWA — In a split decision, the Supreme Court of Canada has… Continue reading

Most Read