Sooke woman’s son pricked by uncapped needle in Saanich park

WatchA teenager was poked by an uncapped needle in a Saanich park. Advocates say the solution to the region's needle problem is safe injection sites.

Sooke resident Jayna Forgie was at home on Monday when she got a concerning text message from her son.

“My son had texted me, saying he got poked by a needle in the park,” said Forgie.

Her 15-year-old son was lying in the grass in Rutledge Park in Saanich when he was poked in the back by an uncapped needle.

“I was shocked,” said his mom. “I was angry like, this shouldn’t have happened. Of course, safety for my son was number one.”

He was examined at the hospital, given blood tests and is doing fine, but this mom worries this could happen to someone else.

In the past five days alone, the Victoria Police Department has released three separate warnings about uncapped needles found in the city. The latest incident involved an uncapped syringe taped to a park bench in Centennial Square, which police say looked as though it was purposefully positioned to poke anyone who sat there.

Outreach volunteer Clayton Rummelhoff says the recent increase in needle incidents isn’t necessarily because more people are using illicit drugs, but because of a lack of the volunteers who normally pick them up. Due to COVID-19, many of the outreach programs had to stop or slow down.

“As this COVID broke out, all of us were we were put in different positions,” said the SOLID volunteer. “The rigs weren’t getting picked up, they were spread so thin at SOLID, we only had so many people to do things.”

To make the situation worse, there is only one safe consumption site open to the public in Victoria, and Rummelhoff says it isn’t enough.

“I’ve talked to these people in the street that are doing drugs in the street and I asked them why they do not use the safe injection sites, and they say it’s too late and they’re closed, or the line is too long and it takes too long to get in,” explained Rummehoff.

He says the solution is to open more sites that open earlier and stay open longer, as if more people use the sites, the materials can be disposed of safely, leaving fewer needles out in public.

As it turns out, help might be on the way.

Earlier this month on August 4, the province announced $10.5 in million funding to open 17 new supervised safe injection sites across B.C. and now they are trying to figure out which health authorities need them most.

“I just hope there can be more safe injection sites or safe disposal methods, just so needles aren’t left discarded everywhere,” said Forgie, who worries about the children playing in parks in Greater Victoria, thankful the needle that pricked her son was not infectious.

Fortunately for the Sooke family, according to Island Health’s website, “The risk of infection from an accidental needle stick is rare.”

“It could have been a fresh needle, it could have been a deeper puncture. With little kids running around the park, I think parents need to have a talk with their children, letting them know, there’s danger out there,” said the Sooke mom.

No timeline has been given as for when the decision will be made about where the new sites will be implemented, but for those who know the dangers of needles all too well, like Forgie and her son, they can’t come soon enough.

Rebecca LawrenceRebecca Lawrence

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