Chatham health officials combat overdose deaths with life-saving training sessions – Windsor

Health officials in Chatham are teaching people how to save someone from a opiate overdose in an effort to curb drug-related deaths.

The southwestern Ontario community has had a long run of drug problems with 48 people dying from overdoses in the past 12 years, according to Public Health Ontario.

To combat the problem, the Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit offered free training sessions Thursday to show people how to use a naloxone kits and narcan nasal sprays to help someone who is overdosing.

The training was part of a full day of tributes to the friends and family members who have died, during Overdose Awareness Day.

“I think all of us have been affected by addiction,” said Steve Pratt, harm reduction program manager. “This is a 100 per cent preventable issue we are dealing with and, if ignorance is the disease, education will be the cure.”

Chelsey Bokor and Johnny Dawson lost their sister to a drug overdose four years ago. (Meg Roberts/CBC)

Residents lined up out the door at Aids Support Chatham-Kent to get their hands on free naloxone kits and join the training session. 

Chelsey Bokor and Johnny Dawson lost their sister to a drug overdose four years ago on Aug. 31. She was 17 years old. 

“Utter shock, disbelief, we didn’t see it coming,” Bokor said. “You don’t think this will happen to anyone you love. I suggest everyone come out to this. If that could save a life, why not?”

Laurie Hicks

Laurie Hicks speaks during a vigil held Thursday at Blythe Park to honour those who have died from drug overdoses.

After a training session, the siblings say they are now ready to save someone’s life. 

The tribute to those who died from overdoses continued with a memorial vigil at Blythe Park. Laurie Hicks spoke at the event, telling residents about how she lost her son Ryan to an overdose. 

His death prompted Hicks to become an opioid overdose prevention activist. 

Residents released lanterns with the names of their loved ones onto the water. 

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