Swift Current, along with the rest of Saskatchewan, has been witnessing an increase in overdose-related fatalities.
In 2022, there was a total of six fatal overdoses in Swift Current. Swift Current City RCMP responded alongside other EMS services to these calls and worked alongside them to help provide care during these incidents. Sadly, even with proper care, fatalities still occurred.
For Swift Current City RCMP Staff Sergeant Evan Gordon, even one overdose death is one too many.
In 2020, they experienced zero calls for fatal overdoses. In 2021, there were four fatalities. Last year's six fatalities proves concerning as the emerging trend worsens.
For Gordon, these cases are frustrating, as his officers and other EMS often aren't able to intervene before it's too late.
"'I would say that, unfortunately, the majority of times that our members respond, Narcan isn't required," said Gordon. "It's not deemed to be effective due to the advanced state that the person is in or the fact that EMS has already provided that to them."
The big driver behind this increase in overdoses appears to be correlating directly to the increased presence of fentanyl. The substance, which is often mixed in with other illegal narcotics, like cocaine and methamphetamine, is far more lethal than most people give it credit for.
"Year to year, we have seen an increase in people possessing fentanyl," noted Gordon. "It's cheap to manufacture and can be sold and used in minuscule quantities and it's extremely effective and ultimately very dangerous."
There is a notion that people who have been around the substance abuse lifestyle are confident that they can trust the product they are getting, and that they can handle the additives found within. This can lead to a false sense of safety when using drugs, leading to preventable overdoses.
"I think that there likely is some truth to the fact that if a person has been using substances for a period of time, they develop a degree of comfort with using those substances," Gordon entertained. "Maybe that level of comfort comes into play and sometimes they don't take the precautions necessary to prevent entering an overdose state."
For the City RCMP, they will be looking to keep fentanyl and other narcotics from entering the city in the coming year. By preventing their admittance into circulation and taking down drug traffickers and dealers, they can eliminate these substances from the equation before any harm can be inflicted.
"Just to remind people, we do rely on information from the public in a lot of cases," Gordon reiterated. "If you know something about drug trafficking in your in your area in the city, contact the detachment directly (306-778-4970) or call Crime Stoppers (1-800-222-8477)."