Groundbreaking Data in Overdose Response by Heart2Heart CPR

Contributed by Nick Rondinelli – Owner of Heart2Heart CPR, nick@heart2heartcpr.com

I am excited to share with my community some data that we collected from our overdose response training called Peer Support Responder. The training took place between June 1 to July 17th, 2021, and was conducted at our head office at 216 Carlton St. We have self-funded free training and supplies to 75 community responders and workers who are at high risk of witnessing or experiencing opioid poisoning. 66 participated in a pre-course survey and 62 participated in a post-course survey.

Over 50% of our responders identified themselves as a visible minority. We were also surprised to see that 41% were from my community (2SLGBTQ+). 22% Black (ACB) and 22% were Indigenous. These vulnerable groups and workers are seeking various ways to become empowered and prepared to deal with the current opioid crisis and Heart to Heart First Aid CPR Services Inc. wants to support them.

94% are associated in the field of harm reduction and 60% took our course for work related purposes. We are calling upon the Ministry of Labour to create a standardization in overdose response across all sectors. There is an urgent need amidst the opioid crisis.

70% of participants said they have witnessed an overdose. 48% said they witnessed one in the last 3 months. 62% responded to an overdose and only 8 percent provided oxygen. This was very interesting to see considering that 97% of our responders believe that receiving oxygen to survive an overdose is a health right of a person.

We dug deeper to find out why there was a low number of people providing oxygen and our data regarding the participants’ previous training was shocking. 74% never learned how to use a Bag-Valve Mask (BVM) and 69% never learned how to use a one-way valve mask. The use of these breathing barriers alongside proper PPE is essential when providing care considering that opioid poisoning is a respiratory illness. We asked about the participants’ previous training in PPE and the data was equally shocking. 50% never learned about “full PPE” and 60% never learned how to “put on” or “take off” PPE.

Because both fatal and non-fatal overdoses in the Toronto Shelter System are expected to exceed 2020, we need to re-evaluate current training standards among these workers and all workers associated with opioid overdoses.

We clearly identified a gap in overdose response. Current training recommendations for lay rescuer CPR exclude important components like “pulse check”, how to use a BVM, two-rescuer CPR, and the option to provide an essential lifesaving “ventilations-only” technique known as Assisted Breathing (also known as Rescue Breathing). This “ventilation-only” technique is often the critical component to preventing an opioid-related fatality.

We created a program called Overdose Prevention & Resuscitation (CPR-OPR) in order to properly cover these critical skills. It uses a combination of current guidelines from “lay rescuer” and Basic Life Support (BLS).  Using a collection of evidence-based practices, the training provides learners with a toolkit of options to safely provide the person with what they need.

We compared the mean confidence level to manage an overdose before and after our training (rating out of 5): Before: 2.2. After: 4.1. The confidence level almost doubled after our training. The impact of the training was statistically significant.

We are continuing our training in Downtown Toronto East with new dates to be announced shortly for November. On Oct. 21st and 22nd we are providing our training in Thunder Bay, ON (my hometown) which sits as the 3rd city in Ontario with the highest opioid-related fatalities per 100,000 people. Wish us luck. For more information about our training visit us at www.heart2heartcpr.com/peersupport.

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