He walks Surrey’s notorious strip in Whalley, always carrying a naloxone kit.
Having being saved five times from the life-saving naloxone, Doug Nickerson now puts it to use for others he sees on Surrey’s most battle worn street.
“I don’t go anywhere without a naloxone kit,” said Nickerson. “I hang a kit on my belt loop and away I go. Always have it.”
He recalls some of the more prominent times he’s put the kit to use.
“I went to visit a friend one night and this couple went out and bought some heroin,” said Nickerson. “They came back, did it, and overdosed simultaneously.”
Nickerson also remembers bringing back 12 people during one particularly bad weekend when he says fentanyl had been mixed with crack cocaine. Another time he used naloxone to revive a 16 year old girl who had overdosed.
Fifty-eight year old Nickerson, or “Little Doug” to the people who know him, has reversed 113 overdoses using naloxone, and has himself been given naloxone five times. Nickerson is a “peer”, somebody with lived experience who provides important perspectives on harm reduction services delivered by the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC).
“He is one of the Harm Reduction Heroes of BC’s Take Home Naloxone Program,” said Dr. Jane Buxton, program lead at the BCCDC. “He’s just there, with is kit, and when somebody says `he’s overdosed’ he’s administering (naloxone).”
Buxton said Nickerson is a great example of how the street community looks after one another.
Nickerson was trained in how to administer naloxone at a time when he needed it.
He is now homeless, and administers it to others.
Buxton said his refills, along with comments form the community in Whalley, seem to indicate his claims of helping 113 people is accurate.
“People are aware that he has done this well over 100 times,” Buxton said. “He’s one of those people with lived experience, who comes to our meetings and gives us perspective to make sure we know what’s going on in the region.”
The Take Home Naloxone program has seen exponential growth in recent months. In 2013, the first full year of the program, 617 kits were dispensed. So far in 2016, BCCDC has distributed 13,324 kits to individuals who have been trained in overdose recognition and response.
Some weeks, as many as 2,500 kits are sent out the door to harm reduction sites across the province.
“The Take Home Naloxone program is an important part of BC’s response to the opioid overdose crisis that has taken the lives of far too many people,” said Dr. Mark Tyndall, provincial executive director with the BCCDC. “Work is also underway to improve access to treatments like Suboxone and methadone, and to establish additional supervised consumption services. A lot of work has been achieved and we know there is still more to be done.”
Quick Facts: Take Home Naloxone Program
- Established August 2012
- Take Home Naloxone kits contain items including syringes, three single-dose ampoules of naloxone, alcohol swabs, gloves, mask.
- As of December 2016, the THN program distributes kits to 384 locations across BC including:
- 56 First Nations
- 57 emergency departments
- 7 corrections facilities
- 18,703 naloxone kits dispensed since 2012.
- 16,464 people trained to administer naloxone since 2012.
The BC Centre for Disease Control, an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority, provides provincial and national leadership in public health through surveillance, detection, treatment, prevention and consultation services. The Centre provides both direct diagnostic and treatment services for people with diseases of public health importance and analytical and policy support to all levels of government and health authorities.