Paramedic Jackie Cummings shows members of the Sharpies one of the different kinds of needles. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)

VIDEO: Lake Cowichan Sharpies get the 411 on collecting used needles safely

In a casual atmosphere at the Seniors Centre, a paramedic explains how to collect needles safely

Lake Cowichan’s Sharpies, dedicated volunteers, who make the rounds of the community looking for and safely collecting used needles, learned more about their task at a special meeting Jan. 29.

Paramedic Jackie Cummings, who lives locally, talked to a big group who had either come out to learn more or to refresh their skills.

First off, she explained, picking up needles should never be a casual business.

“Use a proper container. Do not use tongs, don’t use a sweeping motion like into a dustpan. They can all cause a flipping motion of that needle. Then glove up, check them carefully for holes. If there’s a hole in one, get rid of it. If you are very nervous, don’t be afraid to double glove,” she said.

The big point is to not touch the needle at all if you don’t have the equipment, and if you do, place the container on the ground with its opening close to the needle and with gloved hands push the sharp gently in to the container and snap it shut. The containers are one-use only.

Cummings urged everyone never to use pop or water bottles or drink boxes to pick up or carry needles because the containers might find their way into the hands of people who are not expecting to find a needle there.

She also talked about the different kinds of needles that collectors might encounter, including self-retracting ones, that pull the business end back inside the case when finished injecting.


Jackie Cummings, a paramedic from Lake Cowichan, updates the Lake Cowichan Sharpies needle collectors on the safest way to collect used needles they find on their patrols. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)

The safest way to collect needles is to put the container on the ground and slide the needle into it, Cummings says. (Barry Marcoux photo)

These are some of the various types of needles picked up in Lake Cowichan. (Barry Marcoux photo)

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