31 August 2016

Dozing or overdosing?

ODAwarenessToday is International Overdose Awareness Day and Bristol's Recovery Oriented Alcohol and Drug Service (ROADS) is asking all of us:

Dozing or overdosing? Can YOU tell the difference?

AWP's nurse specialist Kat Wolf, who is a key member of the multi-agency ROADS team, explains, "Our campaign for this year's International Overdose Awareness Day was inspired by our colleague Jo's experience [see below] of encountering a young woman who was overdosing, whilst people ignored her and walked past."

Two thirds of accidental opiate (often heroin) overdoses are witnessed, so Bristol ROADS is commissioned to supply those at risk with a naloxone kit - the medication that temporarily reverses the effect of opiates and buys crucial time until the paramedics can get there and take over.  

Kat, who is the naloxone clinical lead for ROADS, says, "We are encouraging those at risk, or those around people at risk in Bristol to come to Bristol Drugs Project to be shown how to use naloxone and receive a supply.   "We are also encouraging anyone who sees someone who could be at risk of overdosing (but maybe looks like they're just dozing) to get involved, and potentially save a life."  

Jo's Story

I was walking through the park on the way to taking my little girl to school and I saw ahead that there was a lady, collapsed on the floor. And people were just walking around her. Walking deliberately around her - because if they'd kept walking, they would have had to deal with her.

And as I was getting closer, this other lady said to me, "Don't walk that way, I think that lady's on drugs" - she'd avoided her and walked past on the grass.  So I kept on walking and went over to the lady lying on the path, shook her and said, "Are you OK?" She wasn't breathing so I told my daughter to stand over there, I phoned an ambulance and put my phone on loud speaker, and then I laid her on her back and did CPR and mouth to mouth until the ambulance came.

There were lots of people, but nobody offered to help. Nobody helped me. My daughter was standing across the way, crying, and people were just standing looking. The ambulance came quite quickly, but nobody asked me anything, or even offered to help me until the ambulance had come and then people started walking over and asking, "Is she OK?" But I felt quite angry about that because I was left to deal with that on my own. Somebody could have called an ambulance at least, or somebody could have made sure my child was OK whilst I was trying to do CPR.

I think that even if people don't want to get directly involved, that's fine, but don't just walk past! If you see someone, you can just check they're OK - and if they're not breathing, then phone an ambulance, even if you don't know what else to do. I feel like that would have made a difference, because I don't know how long the lady had been there - she could have been there for quite some time with people just walking around her.

I did my best, but she wasn't breathing when the ambulance came. If somebody had called an ambulance earlier, I think that her life could have been saved, definitely because she appeared to have been like that for a long time. If you see someone fall over - if you see someone on the ground - why would you just walk around?

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