Vancouver Island pharmacist saves overdose victim’s life

Quick thinking by London Drugs staff

  • Nov. 1, 2018 9:30 a.m.

A Vancouver Island pharmacist has been credited with saving the life of an overdose victim.

The effectiveness of naloxone as an important tool in the fight against B.C.’s opioid epidemic has been well documented. Courtenay London Drugs pharmacy manager Tara Oxford experienced firsthand the life-saving power recently, after personally administering a naloxone shot to a customer who had overdosed inside the store.

“I just knew what I needed to do,” says Oxford, recalling the incident that took place in early October. “There was no judgment, I just thought, ‘This is the drug that is going to save his life.’ The situation was very intense, but it was very calm. Everybody had a very good understanding of what they needed to do.”

A typical workday at the Driftwood Mall outlet took a turn when a 24-year-old man asked to use the store’s public washroom and never reappeared. After about 40 minutes, and repeated failed attempts by staff to get his attention, store manager Adam Fraser opened the door with an emergency key, where the man was found slumped over on the toilet seat and unresponsive. Surrounded by drug paraphernalia, the man was pale blue and barely breathing.

RELATED: One-third of Canada’s overdose deaths happen in BC

London Drugs staff immediately jumped into crisis mode, calling 9-1-1, cordoning off the area, performing CPR and notifying Oxford to administer a naloxone injection. After gathering her supplies and running to the scene to inject the life-saving drug, Oxford recalls how quickly the medicine took effect.

“I gave the shot, and his colour came back pretty quickly,” she said. “He started to come around and by the time paramedics arrived and gave him some oxygen, he had turned pink again and walked straight on to the stretcher. It was absolutely incredible.”

VIDEO: How to use a naloxone kit

After receiving treatment at North Island Hospital, the young man was released and later came back to London Drugs that evening to thank staff for saving his life and allowing him to spend Thanksgiving with his family, Oxford said.

Oxford is intimately involved with the take-home naloxone kit campaign. She is a board member of the College of Pharmacists of BC, which had a hand in implementing the drug’s de-scheduling for emergency use in 2016.

That said, this was her first time administering the drug in a real-life situation.

“You see so much in the media about overdoses, but you rarely hear stories about people being saved,” Oxford said. “I think it’s important for people to know how effective [naloxone] is.”

Just Posted

Gas prices on Vancouver Island to drop six cents

But a ‘volatile’ market could lead to increases in the coming weeks

Chemainus Fun Run participants spice up their lives

Inaugural Pumpkin Spice event adds a dash of excitement to sunny November day

Who was Chris Bloomfield, the Mill Bay man shot by police?

A troubled man with a voracious appetite for illicit drugs and a non-conventional lifestyle

BC Ferries passengers wait to leave Vancouver Island after Remembrance Day

Traffic aboard BC Ferries slows after Remembrance Day long weekend

Throw a snowball to help kids at BC Children’s Hospital

Effort will raise money for sick kids over the holidays

Vancouver Island remembers

Important stories shared as Islanders salute those who made the greatest sacrifice

B.C. on track to see same overdose death toll as last year: Coroner

128 people died of overdoses in September, bringing the total to more than 1,100 so far in 2018

Canada Post strike having ‘critical’ impact on retailers, eBay tells PM

Canada Post says it is now facing an unprecedented backlog of shipments, largely as a result of strikes

NASA wants Canadian boots on the moon as first step in deep space exploration

The U.S. is seeking broad international support for the next-generation space station to send into orbit a in 2021

B.C. Lions GM Ed Hervey has plan for busy off-season

The Lions’ season ended Sunday with a crushing 48-8 loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the East Division semifinal

Fundraising firefighters complete quest for B.C. Paralympian

The four Penticton residents raising money for Victoria Paralympian complete journey

PHOTOS: Hockey history in B.C. as Team India comes to play

Squad played its very first game in Canada on Tuesday against Surrey Falcons

B.C. man wanted in connection to domestic assault in Edmonton

Sterling Miles Booker has ‘ROCK’ and ‘ROLL’ tattooed on his hands

Most Read