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November 3, 2015

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Drug users’ centre honours overdose response

CUPE 1004 award winner Vera HorsmanCUPE 1004 award winner Vera HorsmanVANCOUVER – The Drug Users Resource Centre in the heart of the Downtown Eastside is marking 1,000 people now trained to administer lifesaving Narcan for drug overdoses.

The Centre, staffed by CUPE Local 1004 and Local 1936 members, will hold a ceremony to mark the occasion on Thursday morning at 11am. As well as CUPE staff and community members, first responders will be honoured for their quick response to the deadly Fentanyl crisis in the Downtown Eastside this summer.

When widespread use of drugs containing lethal Fentanyl prompted a rapid spike in opiate overdoses in August, the community responded. “The whole neighbourhood was shaken by the health crisis around us,” says Centre staffer Dean Wilson.

Frontline CUPE workers at the Centre and the VPD worked to get the message out to the public.  The Centre’s clinic hours were expanded to offer Narcan training and harm reduction services to people during the hours when the InSite safe injection site was closed.

CUPE 1004 member Keith Lennig recalls “a real desperation in the community, a lot of fear around Fentanyl and you could really see the relief in people's eyes when we were able to train them on the spot.” Led by CUPE frontline staffer Vera Horsman, they trained more than 100 people to use Narcan in just one week. Horsman will be honoured with an award on Thursday.

“Nearly 20 years ago we were placing 1,000 crosses in Oppenheimer Park marking the victims of fatal drug overdoses,” says Wilson, “now we’re marking training 1,000 people to help prevent those overdoses – that’s real progress.”

WHEN:  11am, Thursday, Nov.  5 

WHERE: Drug Users Resource Centre, 412 East Cordova, Vancouver

WHO: CUPE frontline workers, Dean Wilson, first responders 


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