Rookie Cop Delivers Lifesaving Dose

43 Division
Just three weeks after being sworn in, Const. Sarah Suongas helped revive a man believed to have overdosed.

The 43 Division officer and her coach, Constable Grant Kay, were on patrol in their vehicle when the call came in around 14.15 on October 25.

The man’s wife told police she found him unconscious in bed after returning home. She also advised them that he has been using heroin and fentanyl in the past.

“We were the first on scene,” Suongas said. “There was a male individual on the ground not breathing and without a pulse. We started compressions right away and I delivered a dose of naloxone. He still didn’t respond after about two minutes and I gave him a second dose. After about a minute, he opened his eyes and regained consciousness.”

This is the second time that Suongas has delivered naloxone for a drug overdose. The first was while she was a Special Constable with Toronto Transit Commission for two years prior to joining TPS.

“My training kicked in and I reverted to that to help save the victim,” she said.

Supt. Dave Rydzik, the 43 Division Unit Commander, is very proud of the new officer.

“She has got just three weeks on the job and she’s thrust right away into something like this,” he said. “Her coach officer told me she performed flawlessly. The only one equipped with the Naloxone kit, she took charge of the situation. There was zero hesitation and the outcome was great."

Coach officers are assigned to mentor new constables for their first eight weeks on the road.

“We have seen across the city, country and the world the rise in overdose calls. Our Division isn’t immune to that and it was really good to see someone with such a short period of time on the job do what she did. Regardless of the circumstances, she saved that gentleman’s life and it’s another opportunity for him to get some help and this might be the catalyst for that. We are looking at making a FOCUS referral for him so he can reach out to the right resources and get some help. Hopefully, he will accept that offer.”

Naloxone is used to temporarily reverse the effects of opioid drugs such as fentanyl, percocet, morphine, methadone and heroin.

Fentanyl is a powerful prescription painkiller about 100 times more toxic than morphine according to Health Canada. Two milligrams of pure fentanyl (the size of about 4 grains of salt) is enough to kill the average adult. Despite this, it has become a popular street drug.

Toronto Police launched the life-saving program in July 2018.

Naloxone is a drug that works quickly to reverse the effects of an opioid overdoes. It’s easy to administer and won’t cause any harm if you administer it to someone who doesn’t need it

So far this year, police have responded to 71 victims who have overdosed.

Nearly 1,500 officers carry the drug.

Supt. Paul MacIntyre, who led the implementation of the use of naloxone by police, said the Service’s program has been very successful.

“Our officers have often been first on scene to overdoses and they have rendered life-saving First Aid coupled with naloxone to resuscitate gravely ill people,” he said. “The program has proven to be a life-saving investment. Often, people who are using drugs don’t know what is mixed into the drug they are using. Fentanyl is a cheap additive that can easily be laced into other drugs, producing a cheaper yet powerful high.”

The majority of the overdoses police have responded to this year have been in 51, 52 and 14 Divisions.

They account for 47 of the 71 cases.

“Often, the officers on foot or bicycle patrol are able to respond to calls more quickly than other emergency services in large vehicles,” added MacIntyre. “In many instances, the officers on general patrol have come across someone suffering from an overdose and had to react immediately to save a life. Naloxone is a drug that works quickly to reverse the effects of an opioid overdoes. It’s easy to administer and won’t cause any harm if you administer it to someone who doesn’t need it.”

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