Heart to Heart CPR Now Offering Free Naloxone Kits and Opioid Response Training to Communities Most in Need!

TORONTO, March 31, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Heart to Heart First Aid CPR Services Inc. has taken on a new role of becoming a naloxone distribution and training centre for the Canadian Red Cross’ Opioid Harm Reduction Program. Heart to Heart CPR will be providing FREE naloxone kits and opioid poisoning response training to their community. The program is available to anyone who feels they need the training and naloxone. Ongoing and in-person training courses will occur once a week starting in April 2023. Programs will start at Heart to Heart’s downtown Toronto location. Options to register for virtual (instructor-led) training is also available. Registration is now open to the public.

A Media Snippet accompanying this announcement is available by clicking on the image or link below:

 https://ml.globenewswire.com/1.0/snippet/2110/eng

Heart to Heart has been a training partner for the Canadian Red Cross for 24 years. With 16 training locations across Ontario, they are leaders in first aid and CPR education and training. “We want to thank the Canadian Red Cross for this opportunity to serve our community that has given us so much. Our goal is to get kits and training in the hands of those who need it the most. We will slowly roll out this program across all Heart to Heart locations,” says Nick Rondinelli, CEO of Heart to Heart CPR.

Opioid poisonings in Toronto Centre have been at an all-time high. It is the epicentre of opioid-related deaths in Toronto. The opioid-poisoning crisis has also affected the entire nation. A recent study revealed that between January 2016 and June 2022, there were a total of 32,632 opioid toxicity deaths in Canada. “It is important to remember that each number represents one human life,” says Heart to Heart’s CEO. The horrific number of lives lost and families devastated is incomprehensible.”

The news of Heart to Heart’s approval from the Canadian Red Cross came a few days before a scheduled visit by our Member of Parliament, Honourable Marci Ien. It also came on the anniversary of Nick’s dear and late friend’s death, Natalie Brais. She died from an accidental opioid poisoning exactly 4 years prior. “She passed away alone in her apartment, steps away from our downtown office,” says Rondinelli. On the day Honourable Marci Ien came to visit Heart to Heart CPR, Nick felt compelled to bring Minister Ien to the apartment where Natalie was found by an upstairs neighbour. “It was important that I bring our Member of Parliament to the front lines of the opioid poisoning crisis,” says Heart to Heart CEO. “It was a cathartic and powerful moment we shared and one that I will never forget.”

In 2021, Nick and his team spearheaded an urgent call to action during the dual opioid poisoning and COVID-19 crises. The pandemic exacerbated opioid-related deaths. It caused social isolation which caused more people to use drugs alone with no one around to help them in the event of an emergency. Border and travel restrictions caused an increase in toxic drug supply. The closure and limited support services for people who use drugs also contributed to the spike in deaths.

As a result, Heart to Heart provided free training and supplies to community members most at risk. Included were frontline workers who were likely to witness opioid poisoning. Learners gained specialized skills beyond naloxone administration. Donning and doffing 4-piece PPE. Two-rescuer CPR. Providing ventilations using a Bag-Valve Mask. These measures were necessary to provide a safe opioid poisoning response during the pandemic. Especially with the provision of providing oxygen to the person. A critical component when providing optimal care for opioid poisoning.

During the training, we received real-time feedback from participants within the affected communities. It provided valuable insight into the firsthand experience of our participants. We co-created a training program with people who use drugs and frontline workers. A grassroots initiative. Led by the affected community, for the affected community, from the street up.

The course was called “Peer Support Responder”. The intention was to target people who use drugs (PWUD), peers and frontline workers who are close in proximity and can intervene quickly to avert accidental deaths.

To date, we provided free training and supplies to over 250 community responders across Ontario.

As Heart to Heart continues their efforts to counter the drug poisoning crisis, they embrace the principle of Nothing About Us, Without Us”. They would like to acknowledge and thank all the people with lived experience, the frontline shelter, outreach, and harm reduction workers, as well as the allies who assisted in the co-creation of the Peer Support Responder training. As Heart to Heart CPR moves into this new role, they want to ensure that most of their training programs are led by people who use(d) drugs. They are also focused on ensuring that the training is facilitated by those from the various affected communities. “Although we are not receiving funding to provide this training, we will still pay our facilitators to deliver the training. We plan on creating jobs among those with lived or living experience,” says Nick Rondinelli, CEO of Heart to Heart CPR.

Our former Peer Support Responder training, now followed with our new role as a naloxone distribution and training centre, has expanded Heart to Heart’s mission and movement. Our goals are to train as many people as possible. Increase access to naloxone. Destigmatize people who use drugs. Promote healing, mental health and recovery. Encourage those struggling with addiction to ask for help. Our training will provide all these things,” says Rondinelli.

Heart2Heart CPR is empowered by the leadership and humanity of the Canadian Red Cross. The power of education, collaboration and community is what we need to combat this crisis.

Click here for more information about Heart to Heart’s training and naloxone program, Registration is now open.

The Canadian Red Cross’ Opioid Harm Reduction project is also available nation-wide. All those who complete the self-directed online training will receive a free naloxone kit by mail. Even anonymous, if you prefer. Click here to learn more about the Canadian Red Cross’ Opioid Harm Reduction programs.

Heart to Heart CPR would like to extend a special thanks to Honourable Marci Ien. Heart to Heart CEO says, “To have our MP and Federal Minister of Women, Gender Equality and Youth visit us now is beyond coincidental. I feel it is the divine work of my dear and late-friend Natalie Brais. In loving memory of her and all those who have lost their lives to opioid poisoning, we do this work in their honour.”

CONTACT:

Nick Rondinelli – CEO / Owner
Heart to Heart First Aid CPR Services Inc.
Office: 416-960-5319 / 1-866–260-2790
[email protected] / https://heart2heartcpr.com


CBJ Newsmakers

Recommended