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Police to combat opioid crisis during RIDE campaign

12,000 info cards to be handed out
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2017-12-01 OPP opioid RIDE cards
OPP Sgt. Peter Leon holds the card that officers will be handing out during RIDE stops. OPP photo

The OPP is teaming up with area police forces and the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit to escalate the war on opioids.

At a news conference Friday at Central Region Headquarters in Orillia, the OPP announced what they called an 'innovative approach to combat the opioid issue.'

During the Festive R.I.D.E. campaign, officers from the OPP, Barrie, South Simcoe and Midland Police will be handing out 12,000 information cards to motorists who are stopped until Jan. 2, 2018.

"These are very, very dangerous times," said OPP Sgt. Peter Leon, referring to the fact that certain drugs are now being laced with fentanyl. "People need to use caution. The reality of it is the next time could be your last time.'

The cards contain information about the types of drugs that are opioids, how to recognize the signs of an overdose and what to do along with where to find additional resources.  

"The OPP has taken what can be described a s a proactive stance to avert what has evolved into a public health concern," said OPP Chief Supt. Rose DiMarco. 

DiMarco noted that in early October, officers from the Orillia detachment investigated two sudden deaths within a 20 hour period.

"Although the investigations remain ongoing and we await toxicology reports, we could not sit back and see another person die without mobilizing our community based resources," said DiMarco.  "People are dying in communities right across Simcoe County and the District of Muskoka."

"The distribution of these cards will support the ongoing education that needs to take place."

Dr. Lisa Simon, Associate medical officer of health for the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, told the news conference all segments of the population are impacted.  

Simon emphasized the 'gravity' of the situation in which opioids are impacting communities in the regions. 

"We see that through our data on opioid-related death rates and emergency visits in our region which are higher than the provincial average and the trend is upwards," Simon said.

All front line OPP officers are equipped with kits of the opioid antidote naloxone.