Perla Pelletier didn’t think that she would soon be involved in a life-and-death situation when she got up early on the morning of Sunday, June 7.
Pelletier, a registered nurse from Courtenay who grew up in Duncan, was driving from the Warmland shelter just before 8 a.m. after picking up coffee and muffins and handing them out to people there when she saw two people, a man and woman on James Street laying on the sidewalk surrounded by bylaw officers and a security guard.
She said it appeared the couple had overdosed so she took the pulse of the man and determined that he was in medical distress.
“I asked one of the bylaw officers if he had a naloxone kit [naloxone is a medication used to block the effects of opioids], which he did, and I gave the man an injection, but his breathing was still laboured so I was preparing to give him another shot of naloxone when one of the bystanders said the woman looked like she was dead,” Pelletier said.
“I gave her one shot and there was no reaction so I gave her a second shot and still there was nothing. She still appeared dead so I began CPR and there was still no response.”
Pelletier said by this time, the police and BC Ambulance had arrived at the scene and paramedics gave her defibrillator pads to use in an effort to revive the woman.
“I worked on her for more than five minutes until she finally started breathing again, and efforts by others finally revived the man,” she said.
“I’m glad I was there. Some of the first responders on the scene were great, but others could have been more helpful.”
A press release from the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP detachment acknowledged that two people suffering drug overdoses received life-saving care on the street thanks to officers from the detachment, paramedics and compassionate bystanders who performed CPR.
The release said that when police arrived on scene, they assisted in doing CPR and administered naloxone.
It said these efforts were effective in reviving one person, and paramedics responded shortly after and cared for both patients on scene before transporting them to hospital.
“We are thankful to work in a community that has so many kind and caring people,” said RCMP Sgt. Adam Tallboy.
“The assistance offered by police officers, bystanders, and paramedics in this situation helped to ensure that the people received the medical attention they needed.”
In Duncan, BC Emergency Health Services receives more than 20 calls to 9-1-1 each month for potential overdose patients, and police often attend these calls to assist with ensuring public safety and completing tasks like seizing and destroying any illicit drugs left behind.
People who use drugs are encouraged to take steps to keep themselves safe by not using alone, by having a naloxone kit available and by calling 9-1-1 if an overdose is occurring.
The Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act prevents people from being charged for simple possession of drugs if 9-1-1 is called during an overdose.