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Emergency exercise explores mass opioid overdoses

Grey County and partners are better prepared to respond to a mass opioid overdose following a large group training exercise held on November 7. The overdose scenario was a unique twist on Grey County’s annual emergency exercise. A simulation was designed around a scenario of tainted drugs being sold at a large outdoor concert.

Training was held at the Grey County administration building and included participation by Grey County, the municipalities of West Grey and Owen Sound, the Grey Bruce Health Unit, Grey Bruce Health Services, South Bruce Grey Health Centre, Victim Services, paramedic services, police, fire and other partners.

“I understand this may be the first time a mass opioid overdose has been used as a scenario to test emergency response,” said Grey County Warden Selwyn Hicks.  “Overall, we learned a lot and were very pleased with the well-coordinated response from participants.”

As the mock overdose scenario unfolded, the outdoor concert was cancelled but casualties continued to mount as tainted drugs were consumed in other locations. The exercise reviewed how first responders, municipal services, healthcare services and other partners would respond.

The exercise was a great opportunity to test local emergency response plans, and the newly drafted Opioid Response Plan which is being developed by the Grey Bruce Health Unit.

“From a Public Health lens, testing response to a large-scale overdose situation is important. The scenario humanizes the opioid epidemic and provides a realistic opportunity to view how it can touch everyone,” said Ian Reich, Public Health Manager with the Grey Bruce Health Unit. “The lessons learned will enhance our planning moving forward.”

All municipalities in Ontario are required to have an emergency management plan and to test the plan annually. Planning allows municipalities to respond quickly in the event of an emergency and minimize the impact on the affected communities. For more information about emergency management in Grey County, visit


For media inquiries, contact:

Rob Hatten, Grey County
Communications Manager
519-372-0219 ext.1235
Drew Ferguson, Grey Bruce Health Unit
Public/Media Relations Coordinator
519-376-9420 ext.1269

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