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Demand for naloxone training on the rise as opioid epidemic grips Canada

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Off the heels of a warning by OPP for Simcoe County and Muskoka residents to be aware of potentially fatal opioids on city streets, the Canadian Red Cross says its Naloxone training is in high demand.

Provincial police warned four deaths in the region this month could stem from suspected opioid-related overdoses.

It's a similar story for Canadians coast to coast, with opioids and fentanyl forcing their way into mainstream discussion.

To help combat its dangers, the Canadian Red Cross offers in-person and online courses for those seeking Naloxone training, a life-saving medication that can counter the effects of opioid poisoning or overdose.

"Demand is starting to increase for wanting to know a bit more," said Shannon Scully-Pratt, First Aid expert in Barrie with the Canadian Red Cross. "There's a lot of stigmas that are around opiate poisonings, and so it's important to all Canadians to start destigmatizing it."

Scully-Pratt said one common misconception is that potentially fatal opioids will only affect drug users.

"That's just not true, however," she said. "Even Health Canada tells us that nine out of 10 opiate poisonings are accidental. This can impact anyone."

Richard King is a first aid instructor with the Red Cross. He said that notion hits close to home for him.

"My daughter went away for college; she keeps a naloxone kit at her place," King said. "It's just because she's so close to residents and feels by having it, she's more comfortable."

High-risk businesses in Ontario will be mandated to have naloxone by June 1.

Scully-Pratt said the Red Cross is looking to hold more training with businesses before that deadline nears.

Naloxone kits can also be ordered from the Red Cross for delivery or by visiting your nearest pharmacy.

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