Milton Inmate Pens Thank-You Letter to Police After Suspected Opioid Overdose
A handwritten, heartfelt thank-you note has been sent to Halton police — from an inmate at the Milton courthouse following a suspected opioid overdose.
“Never in my entire life would I ever be able to imagine that a police officer would be [the] one to save my life,” wrote the 33-year-old man who was in a holding cell on Jan. 17.
“You all have changed my line of thinking.”
It's unclear how the drugs got into the cells.
First responders were dispatched to 491 Steeles Ave. E. at 12:53 p.m. for a report of an inmate who was in distress.
Information provided in the call was that the inmate wasn’t breathing.
Police officers, Milton firefighters and paramedics responded to the scene and found the victim unconscious and unresponsive.
The preliminary investigation revealed that the victim, a remanded inmate, was housed in a holding cell with other inmates waiting to appear on criminal charges.
While in the holding cell, several Halton police special constables saw the victim in distress.
The officers immediately entered the cell and quickly determined he wasn’t breathing, then removed the victim from the cell and grabbed an automated external defibrillator (AED).
The officers found a pulse and suspected the victim was suffering from an opioid overdose.
The AED wasn’t used to administer electrical shocks.
Instead, officers began emergency response procedures and medics arrived, taking over.
Halton EMS administered Naloxone, a drug which blocks or reverses the effects of opioid overdoses.
The victim’s condition seemed to improve and the man was transported to hospital.
Another inmate and a special constable were also taken to hospital for possible cross-contamination of unknown opioids.
All were later released.
“There really isn’t enough words with meaning in the english dictionary to write to you all so that I can express how grateful I am for all of you,” the inmate’s letter continues.
The victim ended his letter with this.
“To the officer who noted something wrong in the cell, to the two officers who were there when I was discharged from hospital and everyone in between, I thank you, my girlfriend thanks you, and my family thanks you.”
Halton Regional Police handout
Det.-Sgt. Dave Costantini of the 1 District criminal investigations bureau said he can’t comment on the aspects of this ongoing criminal investigation.
“This incident highlights the dangers of opioids and the complications that can arise with opioid use,” said Costantini, adding it “also demonstrates the quick and effective collaboration that exists” with the Region’s first responders.
“We are extremely fortunate that this incident ended with no serious injuries or loss of life.”
Naloxone can temporarily reverse an opioid overdose.
There were 336 opioid-related deaths in Ontario from May to July 2017, versus 201 deaths during the same time period in 2016, representing a 68 per cent increase, according to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.
In addition, from July to Sept. 2017, there were 2,449 emergency department visits related to opioid overdoses, compared with 1,896 in the three months prior, representing a 29 per cent increase.
The province announced last month that it was equipping 61 police and 447 fire services across Ontario with kits to prevent overdoses, and potentially help front-line police and firefighters in case of exposure.
Halton police have seen a noticeable increase in reports of synthetic opioids over the last two years, according to Det.-Sgt. Anita Laframboise of the drug and morality unit.
“Incidents like this one highlight the risks people take in consuming any type of illicit drug as those involved in their sale are not driven by morals or ethics,” said Laframboise.
“There are no regulations to ensure the safety or the quality of the product which is often diluted with harmful chemicals including potent synthetic opioids. This poses a risk not only to the consumer but to those that come in contact with it.”
Naloxone kits are currently available for free at participating pharmacies and from eligible community and health organizations.
Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to contact Det. Barrett Gabriel of the 1 District criminal investigations bureau-street crime unit at 905-825-4747 ext. 2417. Tips can be forwarded to Crime Stoppers; “See Something, Hear Something, Know Something -- contact Crime Stoppers” at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS), through the web at www.crimestoppers.ca or by texting “tip201” with your message to 274637 (crimes).