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Southern Alberta First Nations community issues alert over suspected opioid overdoses
Published Saturday, November 24, 2018 11:41AM MST
Last Updated Saturday, November 24, 2018 6:38PM MST
A First Nations reserve near the City of Lethbridge has issued a special alert after dozens of people suffered drug overdoses this week, including one fatal incident.
The Blood Tribe Police Service says that it responded to 22 overdoses on the Stand Off reserve between Tuesday and Thursday and EMS services in the same area were called to 50 suspected overdoses over the same time frame.
Officials say that the highly toxic opioid carfentanil was found to be involved in a number of the calls.
Police chief Kyle Melting Tallow is now asking residents of the reserve to be more vigilant if they are going to take drugs and are also encouraging them to report drug traffickers.
"We all know that illicit drugs are very dangerous, however drug traffickers continue to prey on our community. They take advantage of our vulnerable and the socioeconomic situation in the community. Many people are caught in the cycle of addiction and do not know how to seek help. It is up to us to help and work together as a community to deal with this issue appropriately," Melting Tallow said in a post on Facebook on Friday.
Melting Tallow says that there are a lot of education programs in the community that cover topics such as naxolone intervention, treatments for those with addiction and enforcement by police.
"Our officials are also working with federal and provincial representatives to seek more resources, both human and financial, to assist with this situation."
He adds that it is a very grave situation for families and personnel in Stand Off.
"This has an impact on many families who have to deal with their loved ones dying or even ending up in the hospital. This also has an affect on our first responders, including EMS and other departments as they are responding to these calls and are having to continue to deal with that."
Even so, Melting Tallow says they are still committed to the safety of the community and go above and beyond to do what they can to help.
He says that methamphetamine and alcohol also continue to be prevalent in the community.
There are talks in motion to re-examine proposals for a safe consumption site, where users can go to use drugs in a safe setting, and a safe withdrawal management site, where addicts can go to access resources to help them get away from drugs.
"Addictions support continues in many, many areas of the community," Melting Tallow says.
Earlier in 2018, Stand Off issued a state of emergency because of a series of overdoses because of carfentanil.
(With files from the Canadian Press)