A social media post about drug-related overdose deaths in Revelstoke is raising concern in the community. Allyssa Stafford posted in the Facebook group “Revelstoke Community” on Saturday saying she had heard of five overdose fatalities over the past week.
“I think more people should be informed about what the numbers really look like. It scares me. Please be responsible!” Stafford wrote on her post.
The Mountaineer online began following up on reports of overdose related fatalities after being tagged in a comment on Stafford’s post. The Mountaineer has not been able to verify through either the BC Coroners Service or Interior Health if the recent fatalities were overdose related or the number of possible drug-related deaths.
Interior Health spokesperson Karl Hardt said IH has not received any reports related to overdose cases at Queen Victoria Hospital in Revelstoke over the past few days.
“If there are overdose deaths in the community [outside IH facilities], we would receive notification through the BC Coroners Office after confirmation of overdose as the main cause of death, which might require more time,” said Hardt.
Stafford said she decided to post on social media because three of the individuals who died as the result of an overdose are people she and her boyfriend Jeremiah Altenhofen knew personally. Stafford and Altenhofen say all three individuals died within approximately a week of each other.
“Nobody hears about this, nobody knows what’s going on,” Stafford said in a phone interview with the Mountaineer.
Altenhofen said it has been difficult to lose his friends so close together and in such a short amount of time.
“It’s a bit of a crisis in a small community. Kids are losing their fathers and losing their mothers,” he said. “In Revelstoke we don’t have drug addicts on the street, we have families.”
Altenhofen said he has heard talk of “bad” cocaine and pills making the rounds in Revelstoke. Social media comments over the weekend asked why RCMP had not released information about the number of overdoses and possibility of a tainted drug supply. RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Dan Moskaluk said this type of information would be distributed to the public through either the BC Coroners Service or Interior Health.
Revelstoke RCMP Staff-Sgt. Kurt Grabinsky confirmed all police officers in the community are issued Naloxone kits. Grabinsky said in an email to the Mountaineer that there have been two recent incidents where officers deployed Naloxone. He did not give information about the outcomes of the two incidents.
Naloxone is used to counter the effects of an overdose of fentanyl or carfentanil. David Lafreniere, pharmacist and owner of Revelstoke Family Pharmacy said at this time the only place to obtain a Naloxone kit is from Public Health at Queen Victoria Hospital or Selkirk Medical Clinic.
Lafreniere said there is a procedure in place to get Naloxone kits to pharmacies. This procedure wasn’t in place when BC Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions announced it would be making take-home Naloxone kits available to the public late last year, which has resulted in delays.
“Our application is in, it’s a matter of when they approve and ship them. Something I don’t except to take much longer,” said Lafreniere.
Despite not having Naloxone kits available to the public, Lafreniere said he keeps Naloxone at the pharmacy just in case someone comes in who may need it.
“I can’t distribute it, but I keep it just in case,” he said.
More information about naloxone kits and how to use them is available at Interior Health or Toward the Heart. If someone thinks they may be having an overdose or is witnessing an overdose, follow the SAVE ME steps and call 9-1-1 immediately.
The Mountaineer will follow up on this story over the next few days and provide more information including confirmation about overdose related fatalities and the possibility of tainted drugs in Revelstoke as it becomes available.