The dangers of fentanyl and fentanyl overdoses will be the focus of a community forum at Williams Lake City Hall next week.
The event, set to take place Thursday, Oct. 13 at 7 p.m., will feature presentations from Boys and Girls Club of Williams Lake (BGCWL) Harm Reduction Co-ordinator Jordan Davis, Williams Lake RCMP Staff Sgt. Del Byron and Williams Lake Community Policing manager Dave Dickson and will include a question and answer session.
“We have been getting a lot of requests for more information and we thought this would be a great way to include everyone in the community who would like to learn more,” said Davis, who has been in the schools in recent weeks with the RCMP giving talks to students about fentanyl.
Byron said his role in the project has been to discuss the dangers of fentanyl and fentanyl overdoses, what local law enforcement is doing from an enforcement angle as well as letting students and the general public know that the police are here to help.
“We want to be proactive rather than reactive. We don’t want people dying because they are too scared to call us. We are not trying to put someone in jail, we want them to get the help they need.”
Byron said there is fentanyl in Williams Lake.
“A conservative estimate is that we’ve had seven overdoses in the last six weeks. It’s here. We are dealing with it.”
As well as educating, Byron said the RCMP are also tackling the problem through targeted enforcement of “crack shacks and dealers” who may be trafficking the deadly opioid.
“This is not just a big city problem, it is across the province.”
Byron said all RCMP officers across B.C. and Alberta, including Williams Lake, will receive training to carry nasal spray naloxone, a fentanyl antidote, with them at all times to react in case of an overdose call for service or if a member is exposed to fentanyl through the course of their work.
Davis said there have been 488 overdose deaths in B.C. so far this year, which led the province to declare a public health emergency.
For her part, Davis will be discussing signs and symptoms of a fentanyl overdose, the use of naloxone kits and how parents can talk to their teens about drugs.
“I’m going to be talking about how to start that difficult conversation with your kids about fentanyl and points surrounding core needs and what makes us all vulnerable as humans,” Davis said.
She encourages everyone — from community agency staff to educators to local non-profit managers and parents and teens — to join in the discussion next week at city hall.
“It can lead to some great dialog, and you will be able to see how this crisis is being dealt with from all sides on a community level.”
Additionally, Davis and RCMP Const. Sharon Peters will be giving a brief presentation on a new community project they are collaborating on called the Human Trafficking Prevention Project. That project will be the first of its kind that will see the RCMP partner with a community agency, BGCWL harm reduction co-ordinator, to focus on preventing vulnerable youth in the community from falling victim to human trafficking.
Davis said the two plan to discuss the alarming statistics of human trafficking out of Williams Lake and the risks the Internet poses to children.
The community forum on fentanyl is sponsored by the Williams Lake Tribune and The Goat FM.