By Jacob Dubé
The Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) is making moves to equip some of its staff with naloxone kits as the university chooses not to take action.
Camryn Harlick, the RSU’s vice-president equity, is planning on having all of the equity service centre staff trained and equipped with naloxone kits—a medication used to treat opioid overdoses in emergency situations—by the end of the school year.
“I think we know that students use drugs, folks have always used substances. We know that it’s happening, why not take the [preparations] in advance so we know students are safe?” Harlick said.
The university currently has no plans to have its staff or security carry naloxone—which can be administered through the nose or in an injection—and said it would rather leave that to Emergency Medical Services.
“Ryerson University student leaders are trained to spot students in distress and to call on the expertise of security or our hired EMS services on scene when needed. We have not trained student leaders to carry or administer antidotes, including Naloxone,” read a statement from Ryerson’s office of public affairs.
Last month, the University of Ottawa’s student federation prohibited their student leaders from carrying naloxone while taking part in orientation events when they learned that they could be held liable in court if someone failed to properly administer the medication.
“We know that students use drugs. So why not take the preparations in advance so we know students are safe?”
People are only allowed to carry naloxone kits once they’ve completed the training.
But Harlick said that the worst-case scenario of improperly administering naloxone is that a person would go through withdrawal, which if controlled, would bring nausea-like symptoms.
“In no way would it be fatal if misused, so in no way is it going to endanger anyone’s life or take anyone’s life away, it’s only going to save people. I think a stomach ache is way less of a deal than dying,” they said.
Harlick said that the plan is still in its early stages, as they’re verifying that the equity centre staff are allowed to be trained to carry the kits so that there’s no administrative issues. But they also said that nothing is stopping individuals from being trained and carrying their own kits with them anyways.
With the RSU’s Sundown festival coming up on Sept. 22, and as local music festivals have recently seen a significant amount of opioid overdoses, anybody is able to access these facilities in the city and be trained to carry a kit themselves.