Canada has yet to declare a national health emergency in response to the opioid crisis, despite a record number of overdose deaths. Frontline Fentanyl focuses on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, where community members have mobilized and created their own pop-up safe injection sites, saving countless lives every day.
This documentary follows the workers on the frontline of the opioid crisis in the Downtown Eastside, where users are helping users.
Created by Alex Tsui, Brittany Spencer, Behdad Mahichi, Robert Foreman and Avneet Dhillon, with animation by Kaho Yoshida.
Robin McIntosh is a frontline worker and a resident of the Downtown Eastside. She is a volunteer at the Overdose Prevention Society (OPS), an unsanctioned pop-up injection site started by community members as a response to the opioid crisis. Robin began volunteering after her brother died of an overdose at the age of 32. She is trained and equipped with Naloxone to respond to an overdose while supervising users.
Dave Chevelday is a former paramedic from Alberta and manager of the Overdose Prevention Society (OPS). He leads a team of volunteers who assist an average of over 300 users who visit the unsanctioned site on a daily basis. Dave trains community members, many of whom are users themselves, to volunteer as frontline workers at the injection site.
Hugh Lampkin is a board member and former president of the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU). He is unable to obtain a prescription for his chronic pain due to his history of addiction, leading him to buy fentanyl off the streets. Hugh helps supervise an injection room at VANDU and conducts regular Naloxone training sessions that are open to the public.
Brie Leader is a Downtown Eastside resident and frontline worker with Spikes on Bikes, a mobile needle recovery program where volunteers patrol the neighbourhood and respond to overdoses. She decided to start volunteering as a way to give back to the community that supported her with her own drug use. In late 2016, Spikes on Bikes was responding to 10 to 12 overdoses a day. Brie also conducts Naloxone training sessions.
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