By Lethbridge Herald on March 6, 2015.
The Blood Tribe Chief and Council declared a local state of emergency Wednesday in response to the growing community concern of prescription drug abuse and the recent deaths related to the street drug Oxy 80.
A press release issued Friday morning indicated councils Health Advisory Committee is currently working with the Blood Tribe Department of Heath (BHTD), along with other service providers in carrying out a strategic action plan to provide proper support to the community. The committee has partnered with the University of Lethbridge Faculty of Health Sciences in conducting an asset mapping exercise that will determine what services are available and what is needed in providing assistance to those dealing with addictions.
Dr. Esther Tailfeathers, physician for the tribe, has advocated the medication naloxone to counter the impacts of opioids in overdose situations. First Nations and Inuit Health Branch (FNIHB) has provided 47 naloxone kits to the tribe, and council said it is prepared to purchase more kits if needed. A series of community meetings were held in Levern, Moses Lake, and Standoff this week to inform the public of what naloxone is and the necessary training required in administering the medication.
According to the press release, The Blood Tribe Police Service is also taking immediate action, and priority is being given to combat the growing unlawful drug sales and increasing use of opiates, including Oxy 80 within the Blood Tribe community.
The Blood Tribe Police Services has ongoing investigations related to these concerns, and two officers have been dedicated to concentrate their time exclusively to drug-related investigations of this type. They have been assigned to the newly-formed Crime Reduction Unit (CRU), and have been chosen based on their related experience and training in drug-trafficking investigations.
Officials for the Blood Tribe met with the Alberta Emergency Management Agency to begin assessment of the local state-of-emergency request. The tribe said it will also actively seek federal health funding in providing additional resources.
The press release added chief and council are aware of the community-driven process in combating prescription drug abuse and want to support that awareness with the acknowledgment of the ongoing activities put on by Blood Tribe members.