Impact Evaluation Report: Peer Support Responder and Community Overdose Response Training Program.
The opioid crisis in Toronto continues to intensify during the COVID-19 pandemic and opioid-related deaths continue to rise in record breaking numbers. The data and statistics are startling and sombre. The opioid overdose crisis remains a public health emergency that requires immediate mitigation and swift action. Heart to Heart First Aid CPR Services Inc (H2H), led by owner and CEO, Nick Rondinelli, has spearheaded a free specialized overdose response training program called Overdose Prevention & Resuscitation (CPR-OPR). This new classification of CPR training for lay responders was urgently needed as many critical skill required to properly manage opioid poisoning are not covered in basic workplace first aid/CPR courses in Ontario. It was conceptualized in October 2020, designed on February 11, 2021, and launched on March 5th, 2021 through a pilot program.
CPR-OPR uses a combination of current guidelines and protocols from “lay rescuer CPR” and more advanced skills from Basic Life Support (BLS). Using a collection of evidence-based first aid response practices, the training provides learners, based on their training and confidence level, with a toolkit of options to safely provide a person experiencing opioid poisoning with the recommended first aid response. Since opioid poisoning causes respiratory arrest, providing the person with oxygen quickly and safely is recommended. This can best be done with two-rescuers performing ventilations coupled with chest compressions while using a Bag-Valve Mask (BVM) and wearing 3- to 4-piece PPE. These measures are crucial for the safety of the responders and will allow them to provide vital oxygen without fear of cross
contamination of communicable disease and toxic chemicals.
Nick took the guidelines and standards from the newly developed CPR-OPR program and created a specific course to target those who were on the frontlines of the opioid crisis. Since opioid-related deaths can often be averted if the person consuming opioids is in the presence of “peers”, the course was named “Peer Support Responder” with the intention to target people who use drugs (PWUD), their friends, allies, and frontline workers who are in proximity and can intervene quickly to avert an accidental opioid related fatality.
The initiative provides a free 2.5-hour “Peer Support Responder (CPR-OPR)” training program and includes the provision of relevant protective equipment and PPE supplies directly to the community most impacted and likely to provide overdose response. Free supplies were provided to all participants including an emergency response backpack containing a one-way valve resuscitation mask, Bag-Valve Mask (BVM) with HEPA filter, mini-first aid kit and 4-piece PPE (KN95 mask, gloves, eye protection, gown).
Three days after the launch of the program (March 8, 2021), a medical statement was released by the American Heart Association (AHA). Almost all the additions and recommendations in CPR-OPR were affirmed. The AHA report is called: “Opioid-Associated Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest: Distinctive Clinical Features and Implications for Health Care and Public Responses.”1 It states that providing ventilations and airway management coupled with chest compressions and naloxone administration is the recommended approach for those most at risk and likely to encounter an opioid overdose. It also stipulates that regular and frequent training is required to develop mastery in the skills needed to provide ventilations effectively. Nick and his team were overjoyed to learn about this medical statement as it affirms that the training meets the current medical standards for opioid response – a program co-created with members of the affected community.
Click on the following link for the full report. Enjoy!
Impact Evaluation Report
Peer Support Responder
Overdose Prevention & Resuscitation (CPR-OPR)
For Community Overdose Responders and Frontline Workers
Author: Nick Rondinelli
Co-Author & Researcher: Dr. Sibghat Usmani PhD
Editors: Dr. Elisabeth Rondinelli PhD, Christian Hui PhD (c), Suzanne Edwards
Drug Culture & Harm Reduction Community Consultant: Samuel Lopez
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