Aylmer’s Michel Raymond makes a difference
Firefighters to carry naloxone kits as opioid overdose crisis grows
Michel Raymond, an active Aylmer community member, was successful in his initiative to get first responder firefighters to carry naloxone kits. Naloxone is a lifesaving antidote for opioid overdoses, including fentanyl.
After the loss of his daughter in October 2020, Raymond asked the City of Gatineau and the Commission de Santé to train first responders on how to use naloxone kits and allow them to carry the kits. Thanks to his efforts, all fire trucks carry naloxone kits.
According to the Quebec government, naloxone is available for citizens throughout Quebec, at no cost and without a prescription, at any pharmacy and in some health care institutions. Some pharmacies must order naloxone when someone requests it and it is usually available within 24 to 48 hours. Other pharmacies keep the medication in stock.
Some community organizations are authorized to provide naloxone to those in need as well. Naloxone is accessible to citizens, which is why it was unusual that first responders were not able to carry the kits.
Raymond said his work is not done yet. He told the Bulletin he is currently working with André Fortin, Member of the National Assembly for the Pontiac, to get naloxone kits available for first responders, as well as training for firefighters in their area. He will continue his work so that all first responders in Quebec carry the naloxone kits.
According to Health Info-base Canada, there were 24,626 opioid overdoses between January 2016 and June 2021. In 2021, 87% of accidental opioid related deaths involved fentanyl. “If it can save a life, that’s what matters,” said Raymond.
He highlighted the courageous work of firefighters in the region, stating “some people might believe they just deal with fires, but they are also first responders in other emergency situations. They save many lives, and their work is essential to our community.” Raymond noted that it must be frustrating for first responders if they do not have the tools they need to help people, which is part of the reason he continues his work.
During the council meeting on February 15, Gatineau Mayor France Bélisle thanked Raymond for the work he’s done. “Mr. Raymond has a big heart and I want to underscore the work he and his family have put in to make advances in Gatineau. Thank you for your contribution and tenacity,” said Bélisle. Gilles Chagnon also highlighted Raymond’s efforts.
Photo: Michel Raymond, and Michel Matthews, Captain of the Service de Sécurité incendie, and the firefighters at the Gatineau Caserne de Pompiers #1 in Aylmer. Photo: Sophie Demers