Harm reduction efforts expand locally with naloxone kit distribution and training

An orange box on a public wall, with the door ajar, revealing free naloxone kits, and condoms.
Free naloxone kits and condoms are available inside these orange boxes located at the Squirrel Cove General Store, Gorge Hall, Mansons Hall, and the Cortes Health Clinic. Photo by Loni Taylor.
Loni Taylor - CKTZ - Cortes IslandBC | 14-07-2022
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Tamara McPhail, one of two community paramedics for the Cortes Ambulance, Station 169, is currently offering education sessions on drug use and harm reduction and facilitating the distribution of naloxone kits on Cortes Island.

The last time Cortes Island hosted a harm reduction workshop was in 2019 and the naloxone kits handed out in that time period are now expiring. The Cortes Health Clinic and the ambulance station are facilitating the trade-in of expired kits for new kits.

“The new kits that have just come out are good until 2024,” McPhail explains.

Naloxone kits are composed of life-saving medicine and basic tools to aid an individual suffering from an opioid overdose. Fentanyl is a powerful opioid that has been found in many synthetic street drugs like cocaine, ketamine, MDMA, and ecstasy. Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more toxic than morphine

According to the BC Coroner’s Reports, in 2019, 983 people died in British Columbia of a drug overdose. In 2020, 1,765 more people died of a drug overdose in BC. In 2021, 2,224 more lives were lost in the province, and 83 per cent of those people had fentanyl in their systems. Back in 2016, former BC Provincial Health Officer Perry Kendall declared the opioid crisis as a public health emergency. Since then, the total death toll has risen to 9,521.

Info graphic with the acronym "SAVE ME".

Community paramedic Tamara McPhail recommends following the "SAVE ME" steps during a suspected overdose emergency. Photo courtesy of Fraser Health.


McPhail is regularly attending the Friday Markets in Mansons Landing to offer naloxone training sessions, which take as little as five minutes. 

The naloxone kits are available in three locations on Cortes Island and they are free. Orange boxes contain the kits, and are open 24/7 in front of the Squirrel Cove General Store, Mansons Hall, Gorge Hall, and the Cortes Health Clinic.

To schedule a workshop, or training session for a small group, business, or family, contact McPhail at 250.203.8107 or tamara.mcphail@bcehs.ca. For more extensive training and resources in harm reduction, visit AVI Health and Community Services.

Listen to the CKTZ story below: