It happens all the time, and all too often: Someone brings pills, says “Hey this stuff is way cool! Try it!” And before you know it you have a full-blown medical emergency.
Foolishness and stupidity, perhaps, not malice, but no less lethal because of it.
And then — PANIC! What do we do? And perhaps, foolishly (more stupidity), someone says “Don’t call 911! We’ll get into trouble! We can handle it! We’ll take care of it ourselves!”
Here’s the thing: You can’t — Not unless you’re a trained EMT or medical practitioner, and not unless you have the right tools at hand. Maybe you’ve got some Noloxone, and that might help, briefly, if it’s actually an opioid overdose, but, really, you can’t deal with it.
If you don’t make the call, someone very likely will die. Seconds count. If that someone gets medical help while they’re still breathing, they’ll probably live. But you must make the call.
I’ve heard this story, over and over. In BC alone last year there were 914 overdose deaths, and projections for this year are even worse. This tragedy is rolling across the country in a growing tide of death in every province.
With super-high potency fentanyl and lately even-more-lethal drugs hitting the streets, it was ever more obvious that something needed to be done.
Thus, came the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act, Bill C-224. This straight-forward legislation makes a simple change to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to provide immunity from prosecution for possession in relation to a given overdose incident — providing that someone makes the call.
This immunity applies to the person or persons overdosing, the person or persons calling for help, and anyone who remains on the scene. And, thanks to excellent amendments contributed in the Senate, it provides protection, as well, for those who might be in violation of bail or probation conditions for being involved in such an environment or situation — providing that someone makes the call.
While police services are most concerned about protecting life, in any event, and often have established policies to not lay charges in such cases, in order to build confidence and certainty it is no longer a matter of police discretion.
These immunities are now the law of the land throughout Canada, supported, I should add — unanimously — at every legislative stage in both houses. A rare thing, indeed; for it was obvious to everyone that this was a worthwhile initiative that would save lives. It’s no silver bullet, and it alone will not end this scourge, but it is a part of the solution.
So, whether it’s idle experimentation at parties, or addicts on the street; it could be a neighbour, a friend, a parent, a son or daughter, an uncle or aunt; it could be you.
Make the call. Save a life.