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Mounties dial back warnings about dangers of fentanyl exposure for police

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The RCMP are reviewing how their members should handle fentanyl following new reports that downplay the risks faced by frontline officers exposed to the drug.

While fentanyl remains a deadly and unpredictable drug for those who take it, new research from within the RCMP suggests that police officers aren’t likely to overdose on the opioid by absorbing it through their skin or inhaling it.

“Exposure to people handling the substance is not as high as we thought it was initially,” Sgt. Luc Chicoine, the RCMP’s national drug program co-ordinator, told CBC News.

That marks a shift in the RCMP’s thinking since just a few years ago, when the police service released a video warning about the dangers fentanyl and other opioids pose to first responders — a line picked up in media reports.

Chicoine, who has been part of the RCMP team dealing with Canada’s opioid crisis since its infancy, said that when the crisis began, police had to act on a “worst-case scenario.”

“At that time, the information available on fentanyl was very, very limited,” he said.

The RCMP’s initial caution, Chicoine said, “created a little bit of a monster and fear within our membership and within the community.” He cited reports warning people to be wary of touching shopping cart handles to avoid accidentally coming into contact with fentanyl.

‘Risk is relatively low’

The force is now reviewing available evidence to help clarify the RCMP’s fentanyl policy. The results of that review likely will be shared with other police organizations.

“We have created a little bit of a fear and that’s what we’re trying to solve by doing the full, ‘Let’s take a step back and take a position for the RCMP,'” said Chicoine.

There have been reports of first responders requiring medical attention following suspected fentanyl exposure. In May 2018, a member of the Seba Beach Patrol Service in Alberta was rushed to hospital after he picked up a vial of powder he found on a road. In 2017, the union for Alberta correctional officers raised alarms after several members came into contact with the drug.

Bruce Christianson, the RCMP’s director of occupational safety, said wearing standard protective gear such as gloves and masks should be enough to protect police officers.

RCMP Cpl. Derek Westwick, left, of the Clandestine Laboratory Enforcement Team, guides a member of the team – wearing a type of protective suit worn when dismantling drug production facilities containing fentanyl – into a news conference at RCMP headquarters in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, September 3, 2015. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

“When you’re actually seizing the drugs, the risk is relatively low,” he said.

“If you take the proper precautions and you do your job as you should, then the chances of being exposed are not as great as, you know, some may have feared early on in this crisis.”

Chicoine said the new findings could affect how officers go about seizing and handling the drug — but the biggest change will be to undercover investigations.

Mounties first began carrying naloxone in October 2016 to treat opioid overdoses. In that first year, Mounties administered the antidote in 286 suspected overdose cases. In that first year, just four officers were given naloxone.

“No follow-up toxicology has been done to confirm if it was, in fact, due to an accidental exposure to fentanyl or if it was other psychosomatic symptoms,” said Chicoine.

According to the latest figures from Health Canada, there were 2,066 apparent opioid-related deaths in Canada between January and June 2018, bringing the national death toll up to 9,000 since the start of 2016.

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Now 10 cases of measles diagnosed in B.C. outbreak, vaccinations way up

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VANCOUVER — Two new cases of measles have been diagnosed in the Vancouver area for a total of 10 illnesses as health officials say they’re concerned they can’t find the source of one of the infections.

Vancouver Coastal medical health officer Dr. Althea Hayden says nine of the cases are clearly associated with schools that were at the centre of the original outbreak this month, but they don’t know where the other person contracted the disease.

The health authority has also released a list of locations where one of the infected people travelled over three days from Feb. 15 to Feb. 18, including restaurants, on a Canada Line commuter train and Langara College.

Hayden says the health authority is doing its best to find the source of measles in the 10th person in an effort to prevent more people from being exposed.

Measles at first presents with flu-like symptoms, coughing, a runny nose and red eyes, but then a fever develops, followed by the distinctive rash.

Hayden says the response to a call for people to get vaccinated has been fantastic and the health authority has seen a large number of first-time vaccinations.

“It’s the best thing that people can do to protect themselves, it’s the best thing we all can do to protect our community.”

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Students with ADHD less likely to enrol in post-secondary education, study says

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Danielle Edwards, The Canadian Press


Published Friday, February 22, 2019 2:58PM EST

OTTAWA — Students with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder are much less likely to go to college or university than those with no long-term health conditions, according to a new report from Statistics Canada.

The gap suggests teachers need better training in how to work with students whose behaviour can come off as disruptive and who might seem uninterested in their studies, advocates say.

“They are going to have one to three kids with ADHD in every class they teach for the rest of their career, and this is just regular classrooms, yet we’re not training them,” said Heidi Bernhardt, the executive director of the Centre for ADHD Awareness.

Researchers found that young people with neither a mental-health nor a neurodevelopmental disorder, 77 per cent had enrolled in a post-secondary program.

Only 48 per cent of Canadians between 18 and 22 years old who had a diagnosed mental-health condition had enrolled in a post-secondary institution. That includes students diagnosed with emotional, psychological or nervous conditions, but nearly three-quarters of this group were diagnosed with ADHD, which is considered a mental illness.

The researchers found 60 per cent of youth diagnosed with neurodevelopmental disorders enrolled, including people with epilepsy, cerebral palsy, intellectual disabilities or learning disabilities.

Among young adults with both a mental-health and a neurodevelopmental condition, 36 per cent had enrolled in higher education.

The report used data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth, as well as some data from income-tax returns.

Educators may misinterpret the symptoms of ADHD as bad behaviour, leaving students discouraged about learning and more prone to dropping out of high school, said Bernhardt. She said students with ADHD and no additional learning disabilities score eight to 10 per cent lower in math and reading.

Andrew King, director of communications at the Canadian Teachers’ Federation, said there is no data on the number of teachers across the country who are trained in supporting students with special needs.

Bernhardt also said supports for students with ADHD are inconsistent across provinces.

Ontario has a system for identifying “exceptionalities” for students that divides disorders into five different categories, including autism and intellectual disabilities. ADHD isn’t on that list.

Dr. Philippe Robaey, head of the ADHD team at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, said learning organizational skills is the biggest challenge facing students with the disorder, which can be difficult when they struggle with staying focused on one task.

“When I see kids with ADHD, what they often will say is that ‘I’m stupid.’ Of course they are not, this is the perception they may just develop about themselves, but they are not able to do things so they can develop very poor self-esteem and not believe in what they can do.”

Robaey said setting students with ADHD up for success starts with individualized learning plans and access to specialized classrooms and teachers who are equipped to encourage youth with special needs.

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New biological batteries use energy inspired by electric eels, could be used on next-gen robots, bio-implants

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(Natural News) Battery technology is constantly improving, despite there being only fair coverage about it on the news. Unless you’re specifically looking for what’s new in the world of rechargeable batteries, you aren’t likely to find a lot of information. But there are many experts around the world who are currently working on improving the…

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