BY TIFFANY CRAWFORD
In response to the fentanyl health crisis in B.C., two forums are being held in Delta this week to educate the community about the dangerous synthetic opiate showing up in a variety of street drugs.
The first of two fentanyl forums, hosted by police, city officials and the school district, will take place tonight at 6 p.m. at the South Delta secondary school. The second forum will be held Thursday, also at 6 p.m., at North Delta secondary school.
Delta police say speakers will discuss a range of topics including what fentanyl is, why it’s dangerous, how prevalent it is, and how it can affect recreational users and their families. Members of the community can also ask the speakers questions.
Two weeks ago, a group of nine friends overdosed within 20 minutes in Delta after snorting cocaine believed to be laced with fentanyl. They all survived after paramedics administered the opioid antidote naloxone.
Police believe the 20-something revellers were casual cocaine users and not habituated opiate users.
Delta police chief Const. Neil Dubord has said despite the ongoing fentanyl warnings, many drug users still appear to be unprepared to deal with opioids like fentanyl or W-18 in the drugs they are using.
Delta’s forums are part of a massive provincewide effort to stem the increasing number of deaths from overdosing on drugs tainted with fentanyl. In July, the B.C. government announced it was creating a task force, headed by provincial health officer Dr. Perry Kendall, to combat the rise in overdoses.
In April, Kendall declared a public health emergency after 201 overdose deaths in the first three months of 2016. Despite efforts to curb the rising death toll with the increased distribution of naloxone, 371 fatal illicit-drug overdoses had been recorded by June 30, with the synthetic opioid fentanyl detected in 60 per cent of cases, according to B.C. Coroners Service data.