Sarah Blyth: It's time politicians stepped up to address the overdose crisis before more people die needlessly

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      I have worked in the Downtown Eastside for over 10 years. I have seen a lot of things. But until recently I have not experienced the overdose crisis that I am seeing today in Vancouver and across Canada.

      It's like a war zone. People are dying, ambulances and fire trucks are everywhere, and people are yelling for Narcan from different directions. It's traumatizing. And when so many people you know in the neighbourhood have died and that starts to become normal, it's just awful.

      How much effort did we put into the Ebola outbreak and not one person died in B.C.?

      What is wrong with politicians in power who cannot open scientifically proven safe-injection sites?

      What part of you are the boss? Cut the bloody red tape already. Do you not understand? People are dying in the streets every day and you walk down red carpets. (Yes, I saw a politician walk down a red carpet today.) Where is the outrage?

      Anyway, in the meantime we volunteer frontline workers have set up an OD prevention/harm reduction safe clean tent with a phone, a porta potty, a broom, and Narcan. We are saving lives. We will do it with or without money, but of course, money would help our cause.

      Right now, we are funded by people on social assistance selling coffee. Why? Because they get it, as they are seeing people die unnecessarily.

      I have seen young people die. I have met their grieving parents. Young people don’t always consider the consequence of their actions or understand the risk they are taking. Drugs are rarely the drug they are supposed to be anymore, including pills that look like they come from a drugstore.

      It's not the good ol’ days where you took something and it was what it was or it or it was bunk, or whatever.

      People usually take drugs because they have experienced pain, mental-health issues, or trauma that they do not want to face. It's hard to blame them because many folks that are different in any way are cast from society and stigmatized.

      At our market on Hastings Street we see many overdoses so we decided to be proactive. We are asking people for their time, money (if you are able,) and to spread the word on this very important issue

      Sarah Blyth is a social activist and former Vancouver park commissioner. Organizers of the overdose-prevention tent have created a GoFundMe page to support their pop-up harm-reduction efforts.