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.