Medical student hosts free opioid overdose prevention workshop

Ariel Smith, a second-year medical student, recently launched Okanagan Naloxone Training and provides free workshops on how to deal with an opioid overdose.

A second-year medical student in UBC Okanagan’s Southern Medical Program is going to teach people how to administer naloxone in the event of an overdose.

Ariel Smith will put on the education session Monday at 6 p.m. in room RHS260 of UBC Okanagan’s Reichwald Health Sciences Centre.

During the height of B.C.’s overdose crisis in 2016, Smith volunteered as part of the naloxone training team with Helping Out People Exploited (HOPE) Outreach — an organization that supports homeless and exploited women in downtown Kelowna and Vernon.

For a year and a half, she has visited homeless shelters and downtown locations. There, using naloxone kits, she trained some of the most vulnerable populations how to prevent opioid overdoses and save lives.

Naloxone, if used promptly, can reverse the effects of an overdose from narcotics such as fentanyl or OxyContin.

While volunteers made strides in education and training in the downtown cores, Smith realized the general public was still largely unaware of the risk factors and how they could potentially help in an emergency.

“Through conversations with family and friends, I recognized a huge knowledge gap still existed in our community,” she said, “especially, considering the majority of opioid overdose deaths in B.C. happen to people living inside a private residence.”

Smith recently launched Okanagan Naloxone Training as part of the Faculty of Medicine’s FLEX (flexible and enhanced learning) course.

In partnership with HOPE Outreach, she offers free naloxone training sessions to people, businesses and volunteer organizations.

“There is still a large stigma associated with opioids and naloxone training,” said Smith.

“In our workshops, we create a safe learning environment for people to ask questions, learn to recognize the signs of an overdose and practice with real equipment.”

People attending Monday’s training session will receive hands-on training, a certificate of completion and a free naloxone kit. This event is free and open to the public. To register, email: hello@oknaloxone.ca.

For more information about Okanagan Naloxone Training, visit oknaloxone.ca.