Campus LifeNews

Resident Assistants receiving training to deal with opioid overdoses

By the end of the month, every Resident Assistant (RA) working in a University of Alberta residence will be trained on how to administer naloxone.

Although there have been no reported overdoses requiring naloxone in residence in the last few years, RAs expressed concern to Residence Services over not being able to respond effectively to an opioid-related overdose if the situation ever presented itself. At the start of the fall semester, a committee of RAs and university administrators was created to oversee the implementation of a new training program.

Janice Johnson, assistant dean of students for residences, said the university has purchased “significant” amounts of naloxone kits. They are currently on order and are scheduled to arrive by the end of February to coincide with the completion of RA’s training. Once they arrive, naloxone nasal spray kits will be included in every on-call first aid kit in university residences.

Johnson said the training sessions for RAs are being led by several different organizations, including the U of A First Aid Responders Club and the university pharmacy, to ensure relevant knowledge is passed on to RAs while also recognizing the “considerable” amount of people that require training.

Johnson said while the kits are described as simple to use,the university wanted to make sure all RAs would be able to receive actualtraining before being expected to know how to use them.

“Everyone says you can just pick up a kit and do it,” shesaid. “We obviously did not want to roll this out without the training. Peopleshould be fully able to respond and be comfortable with the kits”

Jared Larsen, president of the HUB Community Association, said the nasal spray training consisted of an hour-long session where RAs learned how to identify when and how to use the remedy. He added this now ensures students in residence will be better protected in a worst-case scenario and that prior to this, RAs did not have any form of naloxone training..

“It is great for RAs to be able to respond to situationswhere naloxone is needed,” Larsen said. “Before, RAs simply had to wait foreither an ambulance or University of Alberta Protective Services (UAPS) torespond.”

According to Johnson, there have not been any reported overdoses requiring naloxone at any university residence in the past few years. Larsen also said he cannot recall an opioid overdose at HUB in the past two years.

However, Johnson said this does not mean that residences shouldn’t be prepared.

“This is a preventative measure,” she said. “While we have not had any reports of opioid overdoses so far, it does not mean it will never happen.”

“If we can train a bunch of people to prevent [overdoses]from happening, then it is a good thing in my books,” Johnson said.

Larsen said he’s has never been in a situation where naloxone was necessary. However, he added it would be a great tool for RAs to have access to.

“It is comforting to know that not only do RAs have thetraining to use these kits, but will always have one ready,” he said.

Adam Lachacz

Adam Lachacz is a third-year student double majoring in history and political science. In his spare time, he likes to read, breathe, speed, and drink mead.

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