People were overdosing all around us, say organizers

22 Oct 2016

Janet Charlie's 26-year-old son Tyler died of a fentanyl overdose in August so she knows the need for facilities like a pop-up supervised injection tent opened by a pair of community activists in a Vancouver Downtown Eastside alley.

"I think it would have saved him," said Charlie. 

"He'd have somebody watching him, somebody who knows narcan training." 

Narcan is the brand name for naloxone, an opioid used to reverse the effects of a drug overdose. 

It's available at the tent which is a place for overdose-prevention, harm reduction and outreach.

Clean Needles (1)

Big need

Organizers Sarah Blyth and Ann Livingston estimate volunteers at the tent have had to use narcan at least 24 times to save a life since the facility opened on Sept. 20.  

"We're not going to stand by and watch people die in the alley and that's what we would be doing if we didn't do anything," said Blyth, who is a former Vancouver park commissioner. 

The tent has a few clean tables, chairs and supplies for intravenous drug users. 

Between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m., it averages 110 injections a day.

"We're getting the stuff from Vancouver Coastal Health and from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control," said Livingston. 

"And we're saving all the ambulance calls, the emergency room visits."

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