An organizer displays a naloxone kit that people can pick up for free as International Overdose Awareness Day training seminar takes place at Centennial Square in Victoria, B.C., on Saturday August 31, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

B.C. paramedics responded to a record-breaking 2,700 overdose calls in July

Province pledges $10.5 million for expansion of overdose prevention response

Paramedics in B.C. responded to more than 2,700 overdose calls in July, marking a grim record since the opioid crisis was declared in 2016.

That’s roughly 87 calls to suspected overdoses each day.

The BC Coroners Service has yet to release the total number of lives lost due to illicit drugs for July, but health officials have warned the stats will likely follow a concerning uptick in recent months – linked to an increasingly toxic drug supply.

As B.C. grapples with two health crisis – the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing overdoses wreaking havoc in all corners of the province – this summer has been particularly troublesome for fatal drug poisonings.

ALSO READ: In a pandemic, those on the front lines face unique mental health challenges

In June, 175 British Columbians died of overdoses, surpassing the previous May record of 170 deaths. Eleven of the fatalities in June involved carfentanil, typically used as an elephant tranquilizer, according to toxicology reports.

That brought the six-month total of deaths in 2020 to 728, compared to 543 during the same time period in 2019.

Seventy-two per cent of the deaths this year have involved street-level fentanyl, a powerful opioid.

B.C. responds to opioid crisis with boost in funding for overdose prevention

On Tuesday (Aug 4), the B.C. government announced $10.5 million in additional funding for an array of overdose prevention responses, including 17 new supervised consumption sites and 12 inhalation sites.

While overdose prevention sites allow for a quick response in communities where there are a spike in overdoses – typically created using mobile trucks or even tents – supervised consumption sites must be approved by Health Canada and are often more permanent structures.

The funding will also further scale up currently operating overdose prevention services, the government said.

Earlier this summer, the federal government gave B.C. the ability to direct physicians to provide legal prescription alternatives to people who use drugs as an alternative to the toxic street drug supply. The new funding will be used in-part to expand access for those at risk, by allowing nurses to help conduct patient assessments.

The province will be hiring 42 new full-time registered nurses, psychiatric nurses, social workers and peer support workers, as well, to join and expand overdose prevention outreach teams throughout B.C.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

overdose

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Horgan promises more child care at $10 per day during Maple Ridge visit

Liberals say the NDP has failed to deliver on daycare

Rivers could rise rapidly as heavy rains hit Lower Mainland

Larger rivers to reach peak levels on Thursday or into Friday, according to high streamflow advisory

B.C. election campaign comes to Ridge Meadows Thursday

Horgan in Maple Ridge, Wilkinson in Pitt Meadows

SHARE: Maple Ridge offers bounty of raging rivers

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon

B.C. reports 91 new cases as officials remain worried over ‘clusters of COVID-19

There have now been a total of 8,395 cases in B.C. since the pandemic began

B.C. Green leader says NDP abandoning environmental plan

Horgan’s claim of unstable government false, Furstenau says

Mounties impound car of impaired driver celebrating birthday in North Vancouver

RCMP say the person was driving with their headlights off

Transgender B.C. brothers debut fantasy novel as author duo Vincent Hunter

‘Transgender people are being misrepresented in popular fiction and media, and we aim to change that’

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

UPDATE: Abbotsford high school killer back in court for ‘not criminally responsible’ hearing

Gabriel Klein was previously convicted of stabbing Letisha Reimer to death

Rainfall warning says significant showers forecast for entire region

Rain moving across Howe Sound, The Fraser Valley and northern parts of Metro Vancouver this morning.

‘Won’t be gathering for Thanksgiving:’ Trudeau says COVID-19 2nd wave underway

In all, COVID-19 has killed about 9,250 people in Canada

Most Read