Metro Vancouver Transit is like a town or city in its own right. Between buses, elevated and commuter trains, subway and sea buses, Metro Vancouver Transit transports a million people every day. It’s a safe system, but with commuter numbers so high, there are bound to be problems. We sat down with Metro Transit Police Officer Julien Ponsioen to get a glimpse into what it’s like working as a transit officer in Vancouver.
“Like a lot of North America, we have an Opioid crisis going on here; people are dying every day,” began Julien. “On general patrol around the stations you’ll find people hooked on fentanyl, in trouble and needing our help. It’s so common that our officers carry Naloxone nasal spray which, when someone has overdosed, we use to bring them back.”
Julien’s first job helped prepare him for the realities of the Opioid crisis he now combats every day.“ I was a paramedic for 21 years, starting out in a small town called Sicamous – the houseboat capital of British Columbia.” During his time as a paramedic he’d “learned how to talk. I was comfortable speaking with people from the vulnerable sector, those living on the streets, active drug users. If you treat them with respect, that respect comes back to you. You soon understand that these people are no different to you, just been dealt a different hand in life.”
His time as a paramedic in Sicamous inspired Julien to do more to help his community. So,at 39 years old, he put in an application with Metro Transit Police and went back to school. “While I couldn’t sprint like my classmates in their 20s, my background and experiences as a paramedic really helped me when it came to the training scenarios.”