Cindy Liefke and Cathy Clements were among organizers of last Friday’s vigil. Both have children who died this year as a result of fentanyl overdoses. (Contributed photo)

Overdose drill a matter of ‘being prepared’

Vigil to honour victims draws about 50 to South Surrey park

With overdose deaths continuing at an alarming rate, being prepared for how to deal with one – much like readying for a fire or earthquake – takes practise, says Sources’ George Passmore.

“We want to be ready,” Passmore told Peace Arch News, of why an overdose drill was held last week at Sources’ Maple Street office.

Passmore, who is manager of Sources’ counselling and substance use services, said the Aug. 30 drill – in which staff reviewed what should happen, then practised on a fellow staffer who simulated experiencing the medical emergency – was the first of its kind for the White Rock site.

Planned as part of efforts marking International Overdose Awareness Day last Friday, everything went as it should, Passmore said by email shortly after the drill.

“It went extremely well,” he said, noting the exercise will be repeated in the future – minus the advance warning to staff.

Passmore said prior to the drill that he hoped it would encourage anyone who doesn’t have such training to get it.

Knowing what to do can save a life even in situations where naloxone – used to reverse opioid overdoses – isn’t available, he noted.

“You can save a life by knowing just how to recognize the signs, knowing to call 911 and giving rescue breaths,” Passmore said.

“Many people, they lose oxygen to the brain. So, even if you don’t have naloxone – which kicks out the opioid molecule from the receptor and saves the person’s life – even if you don’t have that, you can save someone from dying.”

Passmore said that, in addition to inspiring the drill, International Overdose Awareness Day was a good opportunity to raise awareness “that overdose remains a number-one cause of preventable death.”

“Just to remind people about the issue.”

That reality was reflected – in part, at least – at a vigil held last Friday evening in South Surrey, where approximately 50 people gathered to remember those lost to overdoses.

Organizers included South Surrey parents Cindy Liefke and Cathy Clements, whose adult children died of fentanyl overdoses earlier this year.

The parents shared their stories with PAN in June, hoping the awareness might help save other families from similar heartache.

Liefke’s daughter, Cheyenne, died in February. Clements’ son, Brodie, died in April.

READ MORE: ‘My friends aren’t going to sell me stuff to hurt me’: South Surrey overdose victim

READ MORE: South Surrey overdose victim ‘had so much going for him’

Photos of the pair, along with that of a third young man, were displayed on a table at the vigil.

Passmore said signs the awareness is building include that in recent weeks, two people have come to Sources to obtain naloxone kits. One person “asked for a kit because he’d used his kit to save a life the night before.”

The other wanted one “because they came across somebody and didn’t have one and wanted to be better-prepared.”

Passmore said despite the fact that overdose deaths this year have so far averaged 17 per month – and the majority continue to happen in private residences – that awareness is worth highlighting.

“Here’s the thing that’s not being recognized: the awareness is making a difference,” he said.

“The number of reversals that have happened in the last year have been astounding. This epidemic would be much more incredible if we didn’t have the kind of responses that people are giving, especially places like the Whalley strip, where there is actual community and people are looking out for one another.”


Photos of young Semiahmoo Peninsula adults who died of overdoses adorn a table in South Meridian field, where a candlelight vigil was held Friday (Aug. 31) to mark International Overdose Awareness Day. (Contributed photo)

Contributed photo ’First responder’ Heather Wintermeyer (right) and Megan Pickell – with Sources Substance Use Services – demonstrate what to do when someone overdoses, during a drill at the organization’s Maple Street site Thursday. The event was to mark International Overdose Awareness Day.

Just Posted

Ambulance response time concerns White Rock resident

Ambulance arrives 22 minutes after call for service

World Water Day celebrated in South Surrey

City of White Rock manager of utilities Saad Jasim to give a presentation on water Monday

Delta asking for joint provincial-federal review of ‘cashless casinos’

Call for system to prevent money laundering comes as construction is set to begin on Ladner casino

Delta needs education about racism, says new committee

Deltassist’s new Organizing Against Racism and Hate committee held a pair of forums last week

Hands Against Racism takes over Surrey City Hall

Event included music, dance; two people received awards

STRONG, PERSEVERING AND PROUD: Surrey Pride celebrates 20 years with biggest party yet

PART ONE: A special series on the past, present and future of our LGBTQ+ community

Bobrovsky perfect as Blue Jackets blank Canucks 5-0

Vancouver shut out for 10th time this season

Fundraising campaign launched for man caught in SilverStar avalanche

In only two days, the GoFundMe surpassed its $15,000 goal

Terror at sea: Helicopter rescues frightened cruise passengers in Norway

The Viking Sky cruise ship was carrying 1,300 passengers and crew when it experienced engine trouble

Search and rescue team helicopters injured climber from B.C. provincial park

A 30-year-old woman suffered a suspected lower-limb fracture in Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park

DOJ: Trump campaign did not co-ordinate with Russia in 2016

Attorney General William Barr said special counsel “does not exonerate” Trump of obstructing justice

Trudeau in Vancouver to support Tamara Taggart at Liberal nomination event

The former broadcaster is seeking the nomination for the Vancouver Kingsway riding

Trudeau calls May 6 byelection for B.C. riding of Nanaimo-Ladysmith

The riding opened up when Sheila Malcolmson resigned in January

B.C. VIEWS: The hijacking of our education system gathers speed

Children taught to strike and shout fringe far-left demands

Most Read