MacDonald ‘dangerously ignorant’ of opioid crisis: CPFFA

Cornwall Coun. Mark MacDonald, seen here in a December 2014 council meeting, has suggested the fire department should be concentrating on basic needs before taking on other duties. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

CORNWALL – The head of the union representing city firefighters says Coun. Mark MacDonald is “dangerous ignorant” of the growing opioid crisis.

In a statement to Cornwall Newswatch, President Luc Richer says the councillor “strangely characterizes” the fact firefighters will carry an antidote for overdoses as “wasting time” on the job.

MacDonald believes the fire service should be focusing on its basic “needs” before picking up other duties.

“As the crisis deepens, the evidence shows that all first responders police, fire and paramedics are being armed with effective intervention tools,” the president of the Cornwall Professional Firefighters Association wrote. “The councillor rhetoric illustrates his lack of information and is seriously unaware of the public health issues – simply put, immediate intervention saves lives.”

The toxicity of some opioids is so high, that residual dust can be highly toxic, Richer added, noting some first responders have died after coming into contact with victims.

“Why would he deny the Cornwall Fire Service the tools to help save lives.”

Opioid-related deaths in SD&G, PR are a real thing

On Friday, the Eastern Ontario Health Unit shared its newest figures on confirmed opioid-related deaths.

In SD&G, Prescott and Russell, the EOHU says at least 35 people have died from 2010-2015.

“There is a perception among some people that there has never been an opioid-related death in Cornwall, however this is not accurate at all,” Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis said.

The number of emergency room visits in Cornwall for opioids are higher than the provincial average, the doctor added.

Local opioid cases have been related to Oxycontin in the past, but the health unit is now seeing the emergence of fentanyl overdoses. With confirmed deaths in Toronto and Ottawa, “we fear that it is only a matter of time and thus we need to be prepared,” Dr. Roumeliotis said.