The one-year-old boy who suffered an illicit drug overdose in Kelowna, B.C., last Wednesday has made a full recovery.
The child is now in the care of the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD), and the Kelowna RCMP say they are continuing to investigate what happened.
Police arrived at the boy’s home to find his grandfather performing CPR on him on the hood of a vehicle, and first responders used naloxone before rushing him to hospital.
The incident, while shocking, is an example of a problem becoming worryingly more common according to the union that represents B.C. paramedics.
Ambulance Paramedics of B.C. president Troy Clifford said while crews are not seeing “a lot,” overdoses involving children under the age of 10 are becoming more prevalent.
“It’s your worst fear when you’re responding to a call like that,” he said.
“You know what’s happened, and when you have a child or an infant that is involved in an opiate overdose, it’s not a large call volume that we see. But when we’re talking 10,000 (fatal) overdoses since 2016 when it was declared a public health emergency, there’s going to be a significant portion of that that’s under 18 years old or even children or young infants.”
According to the BC Coroners Service, at least two children under the age of 10 have died from suspected illicit drug overdoses in the past two years.
No B.C. agency was able to tell Global News how many children had overdoses and survived in the same period.
With the supply of illicit drugs in the province growing increasingly more toxic, B.C. child and youth representative Jennifer Charlesworth says parents and caregivers need to know the risk and have a safety plan.
“Given the toxicity of the drug supply we’re very mindful that there are significant risks, and really encouraging families to make sure they are very, very attentive, if they are using, to ensure their children are not exposed, because even a tiny amount can have an impact,” she said in an interview last week.
Clifford said drugs like fentanyl and carfentanil, which are powerful enough to seriously harm or kill an adult in the wrong dosage, are especially dangerous to children.
A tiny amount left out on a surface like a coffee table and consumed by a child could prove deadly, he said.
“That’s a reality they could accidentally overdose really quickly, and the impacts on a small body is amplified incredibly, because they don’t have the size or the capacity, plus they don’t have any immunity built up,” he said.
Since last week, Global News has made multiple requests for on-camera interviews with B.C.’s chief coroner and an expert from B.C. Children’s Hospital, but they have so far refused.
With the reality that thousands of British Columbian parents and caregivers are using illicit drugs, paramedics are urging people to ensure they’re always locked up safely and out of reach of children, that surfaces have been properly cleaned and that naloxone is always on hand.
— with files from Rumina Daya
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