Canadian Firefighter Magazine

Firefighters to play key role in offering addiction treatment

By CFF Staff   

Headlines News Hot Topics opiod crisis

Dec. 20, Edmonton, Alta., – Albertans in Edmonton struggling with opioid addiction can now visit their local fire station and immediately connect with the newly expanded Virtual Opioid Dependency Program (VODP) to start treatment. The VODP will then conduct an intake assessment and work with the individual to determine the most appropriate medication treatment. This includes gold standard opioid treatment medications like Suboxone and the recently announced Sublocade injection.

Families of substance users can also attend their local fire hall to receive information about family support and be connected with Parents Empowering Parents (PEP) Society. PEP Society is a provincial resource for families struggling with a loved one’s substance use.

This initiative was made possible because Alberta’s government is providing $1.4 million annually to expand and create a low-barrier/harm reduction division of the VODP. This division will do rapid assessment and treatment initiations for those struggling with addiction and opioid use, and will also provide enhanced case management for clients in the community. Total provincial funding for the VODP is now $6.4 million annually.

Thanks to a provincial grant of $100,000, Parents Empowering Parents (PEP) Society was able to create a provincial toll-free line to support families across Alberta. Any family member of someone struggling with addiction can contact Parents Empowering Parents by calling 1-877-991-2737 and connect with a professional on days, evenings and weekends. This toll-free line, however, is not a crisis line. If you are in crisis, please call 911.


Emergency response representatives and community partners were also involved in the development of the Digital Overdose Response System (DORS), a mobile app designed to help protect Albertans from a fatal overdose. The app is currently available in Calgary, Edmonton and surrounding communities.

Alberta’s government is helping Albertans access life-saving addiction and mental health-related prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery resources. A $140-million investment over four years is supporting the addition of more than 8,000 new publicly funded treatment spaces; the elimination of daily user fees for publicly funded residential addiction treatment; a new patient matching tool, Recovery Access Alberta; and services to reduce harm, such as the Digital Overdose Response System (DORS) app, the introduction of a nasal naloxone pilot, expansion of opioid agonist therapy and fully covering the cost of the injectable opioid treatment drug Sublocade.

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