The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit are looking to identify high risk areas when it comes to needles found in public.
The Health Unit launched a new needle reporting tool on their website, healthunit.org. When someone finds a needle in public, they can report when, where and how many were found. Also, who was contacted when the needle was found, for example if the Township was called.
Jennifer Adams is the Harm Reduction Coordinator for the Health Unit and says needles found in public has been a problem in the area since she’s been in her position, for almost a decade. Adams adds, this year in particular the Health Unit seems to be getting a lot of calls about needles and they found there really wasn’t anything in place to track where needles were being found.
Adams says, through the website reports, they hope to find where problem areas are in communities. The reports will be brought to the Community Harm Reduction Steering Committee, who are spearheading the initiative, and will look to work with the communities that are affected and determine long term solutions.
The Health Unit has received five reports since the launch of the website two weeks ago. The reports were out of Brockville, Smiths Falls and Highway 29. Adams notes they are not shocked with those areas.
If anyone comes across a needle, they can contact the town and the public works crews will go out and pick up the needles. The phone number for Public Works in Prescott is 613-925-2812 extension 6219 and after-hours matters is 1-855-229-5764.
If someone is comfortable picking it up, there is step by step instructions on how to go about picking one up safely and bringing them to the Health Unit to dispose.
Adams says last resort is contacting police.
When the Health Unit gets a report they can contact a municipality to make sure the needle has been picked up.
Adams also wants the public to know that the needles aren’t just from people using illicitly. People are using needles for pet care, farm equipment for livestock, home care, diabetes, etc. She says with more and more needles in the community people need to make sure they’re disposing them properly and not putting them in the garbage or public spaces. Needles can also be disposed at kiosk boxes at pharmacies.
To report a needle found click here.