Keeping a sharp eye on safety: Needles found near M.L. Mall

By Phil Ambroziak

The onset of spring often means new beginnings and the prospect of better things to come.
In some cases, however, it can also create the potential for danger when hazardous objects are discovered beneath the melting snow. On April 16, a handful of syringes were found near the Extra Foods parking lot at the Meadow Lake Mall. Members of Meadow Lake Fire and Rescue were called to the scene to collect and dispose of
the needles.
“Someone spotted the needles and wasn’t sure what to do,” explained Meadow Lake fire chief Neil Marsh. “They couldn’t reach anyone at the hospital who could help, so they called the fire department.”
Marsh said there were some members performing routine maintenance at the fire hall when the call came in. They attended the scene, gathered the needles and disposed of them in a safe and timely fashion.
“People’s first choice should be to call the people at (the Prairie North Regional Health Authority), but we do pick up needles whenever we receive a call about them,” Marsh continued.
Marsh went on to say the public should not touch the needles and, if possible, should cover them with something.
“The ambulance people, the fire department and the RCMP are all qualified to pick up discarded needles,” he said. “We have all the rubber sharps containers and such. As for the people who are using needles, there are proper places where they can dispose of them – there’s a big yellow box for just that beside the fire hall.”
In spite of the fire chief’s warnings, Idella Barr, sexual health coordinator at PNRHA, said adults who discover discarded needles can dispose of them, as long as they are careful when doing so.
“The first thing not to do is to pick it up and look at it to see if it’s a needle,” Barr said. “If you have a pair of good, heavy gloves, you can pick them up, but be sure to place them in a coffee can or some other puncture-proof container. Most people see a discarded needle and turn to stone, but the only danger that comes from any sharps is if you puncture yourself. If you use one hand to pick it up and place it in a can, you should be OK. If there is a pile of needles, use barbecue tongs or tweezers to pick them up, but still be sure to wash your hands afterward.”
Barr said if you accidentally cut yourself while disposing of a needle, the best solution is to get as much blood to come out of the wound as possible before washing your hands and heading to the hospital.
“(Sending a PNRHA staff member to collect needles) is not something we normally advocate,” Barr added. “I think people in the community are quite able to handle it themselves, as long as they treat the situation with respect.”
Marsh said the use of needles is a strong practice in Meadow Lake and the surrounding area.
Barr concurred.
“When the snow melts, you find beer bottles and other alcohol containers,” she said. “Unfortunately, you also find needles.”



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