Correctional officers responded to seven suspected fentanyl overdoses at Drumheller Institution last week, according to the union that represents the guards.
James Bloomfield, regional president of the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers, called the number of overdoses “extremely concerning,” but said it’s not an unusual amount for the facility, which has seen spikes in overdoses believed to be linked to the opioid since last summer.
“Our officers have been doing an absolutely amazing job of catching these guys while they’re in crisis and we’ve been able to provide the First Aid to save their lives,” Bloomfield said.
Officers have been trained to recognize the symptoms of a fentanyl overdose and to administer opioid antidote naloxone.
Over recent months, there have been at least two fatal overdoses at the Drumheller prison and one at the Bowden Institution, Bloomfield said. In December, a correctional officer was exposed to fentanyl at the Bowden facility and had to be resuscitated and taken to hospital.
Bloomfield said the Drumheller prison is “the hotbed for the region” in terms of fentanyl prevalence. While guards do their best to prevent substances from getting into the institution, drugs still make their way in through various means.
“They’ve had the institution in lockdown several times for searching and trying to find out where this stuff is, but because it’s so damn small, it’s very, very difficult…
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