Melanie Labatch, a registered nurse in Vanderhoof, wearing a t-shirt that reads ‘conversations can save lives’. (Aman Parhar/Omineca Express)

Melanie Labatch, a registered nurse in Vanderhoof, wearing a t-shirt that reads ‘conversations can save lives’. (Aman Parhar/Omineca Express)

‘Conversations can save lives’

Naloxone training in Vanderhoof

A registered nurse in Vanderhoof runs a Naloxone program in the region to help address the opioid crisis that has devastated multiple families and communities across B.C.

Melanie Labatch was providing Naloxone Training in Vanderhoof on Thursday, Oct. 1 in the Co-op parking lot next to the Tree of Life.

“It [Naloxone] needs to be more readily available. We are in an opioid crisis and we have been for a while,” Labatch said.

The pandemic has further worsened the mental health of a population already struggling with the opioid crisis, she said.

“When we talk about harm reduction, it is no just putting a band-aid on somebody, it is a whole way of being. If people are meeting their needs, in whatever ways they need to survive, maybe meeting their needs in an unhealthy way, its okay. Until they learn to do other things.”

Labatch is a member of Saik’uz First Nation and said she gets grants from the First Nations Health Authority for this program.

W.L. McLeod Elementary School helps funnel these grants, Labatch explained.

For people looking to help, reaching out to community members struggling is one step. “None of us are individuals, we are all part of a collective community,” she said.

“Sometimes just spending some time with someone is reducing harm. Everybody needs love, connection and belonging and when those basic needs aren’t met, people turn to other things.”

As of September, more than 1,000 people have died of an overdose in B.C.

B.C. paramedics responded to more than 2,700 overdose calls in July, marking a grim record since the opioid crisis was declared in 2016. That’s roughly 87 calls to suspected overdoses each day that month.

READ MORE: Some B.C. nurses given green light to prescribe safe drugs amid overdose spike

With files from Ashley Wadhwani.

opioid crisis