B.C. pharmacist saves overdose victim’s life

Quick thinking by London Drugs staff

  • Nov. 1, 2018 9:30 a.m.

A Vancouver Island pharmacist has been credited with saving the life of an overdose victim.

The effectiveness of naloxone as an important tool in the fight against B.C.’s opioid epidemic has been well documented. Courtenay London Drugs pharmacy manager Tara Oxford experienced firsthand the life-saving power recently, after personally administering a naloxone shot to a customer who had overdosed inside the store.

“I just knew what I needed to do,” says Oxford, recalling the incident that took place in early October. “There was no judgment, I just thought, ‘This is the drug that is going to save his life.’ The situation was very intense, but it was very calm. Everybody had a very good understanding of what they needed to do.”

RELATED: One-third of Canada’s overdose deaths happen in BC

A typical workday at the Driftwood Mall outlet took a turn when a 24-year-old man asked to use the store’s public washroom and never reappeared. After about 40 minutes, and repeated failed attempts by staff to get his attention, store manager Adam Fraser opened the door with an emergency key, where the man was found slumped over on the toilet seat and unresponsive. Surrounded by drug paraphernalia, the man was pale blue and barely breathing.

London Drugs staff immediately jumped into crisis mode, calling 9-1-1, cordoning off the area, performing CPR and notifying Oxford to administer a naloxone injection. After gathering her supplies and running to the scene to inject the life-saving drug, Oxford recalls how quickly the medicine took effect.

“I gave the shot, and his colour came back pretty quickly,” she said. “He started to come around and by the time paramedics arrived and gave him some oxygen, he had turned pink again and walked straight on to the stretcher. It was absolutely incredible.”

VIDEO: How to use a naloxone kit

After receiving treatment at North Island Hospital, the young man was released and later came back to London Drugs that evening to thank staff for saving his life and allowing him to spend Thanksgiving with his family, Oxford said.

Oxford is intimately involved with the take-home naloxone kit campaign. She is a board member of the College of Pharmacists of BC, which had a hand in implementing the drug’s de-scheduling for emergency use in 2016.

That said, this was her first time administering the drug in a real-life situation.

“You see so much in the media about overdoses, but you rarely hear stories about people being saved,” Oxford said. “I think it’s important for people to know how effective [naloxone] is.”

Just Posted

Gas prices spike in northern B.C. ahead of the long weekend

Fuel went up 17 cents overnight in Prince Rupert

Stellar musicians, performers recognized at 54th Pacific Northwest Music Festival

More than 150 awards, scholarships given out to Northwest B.C. participants

Cyclist braking stigma on addiction from coast to coast

Mathew Fee aims at world record for longest distance on BMX bike while sharing his story of recovery

MP Nathan Cullen to testify at oil tanker ban committee hearings

Senators travel to Prince Rupert and Terrace as part of fact-finding mission on Bill C-48

Hazelton RCMP officer pleads not guilty to assault

A trial date for Const. Eric Unrau will be set on Apr. 23

UPDATE: Four victims identified in deadly Penticton shooting spree

John Brittain, 68, faces three counts of first-degree murder and one count of second-degree murder

BC Ferries to pilot selling beer and wine on select sailings

Drinks from select B.C. breweries and VQA wineries will be available on the Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen route

Elizabeth May’s B.C. wedding will be a ‘low carbon affair’ on Earth Day

Green party leader’s wedding party to depart in a cavalcade of electric cars

4 victims killed in Penticton shooting spree remembered at vigil

John Brittain, 68, is charged with three counts of first-degree murder and one count of second-degree murder

B.C. awaits Kenney’s ‘turn off taps,’ threat; Quebec rejects Alberta pipelines

B.C. Premier John Horgan said he spoke with Kenney Wednesday and the tone was cordial

Federal government extends deadline to make Trans Mountain decision to June 18

The National Energy Board endorsed an expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline on Feb. 22

Prince George sweeps to first-ever BC Hockey League crown

Spruce Kings beat Vernon Vipers 3-1 in the Okanagan Wednesday for 13th straight playoff win

Hwang’s first MLS goal lifts Whitecaps to 1-0 win over LAFC

Vancouver picks up first victory of season

Verdict scheduled in Giesbrecht murder trial

B.C. Supreme Court justice will render his decision May 24

Most Read