First responders went to eight overdose calls Wednesday in Maple Ridge, making it the fourth highest community in the province with overdose calls that day.
This spike in numbers came on the heels of what is referred to as “Welfare Wednesday”, when social assistance cheques are disbursed. Historically, such spikes have been seen across the province on and after Welfare Wednesdays.
Paramedics responded to a total of 171 calls across the province, of which Vancouver saw the highest overdose calls at 64, followed by Surrey at 22, Abbotsford at 9, Maple Ridge at eight, and Victoria at seven, on Aug. 25. According to BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS), these were just overdose calls responded to, however, if there were multiple patients at a scene, it would still be counted as a single overdose response. Meaning, the total number of individuals who overdose could actually be higher.
Fraser Health has now issued an overdose alert across its region. The health authority suspects that the street drugs – both injected and inhaled substances – being consumed are contaminated with benzodiazepines which makes it harder for emergency crews to provide assistance. Reports in Maple Ridge are connected specifically to a yellow down substance and a black down substance, said Fraser Health.
**Overdose Alert - Fraser Health - Aug 26 2021**— Toward the Heart (@towardtheheart) August 26, 2021
Increase in OD events across Fraser Health Region. Substances suspected to be contaminated with benzodiazepines. Increase in OD events related to yellow down substance and black down substance. To read more https://t.co/fQ7EmTqtqf pic.twitter.com/29aygNK0LD
So far this year, paramedics have responded to 555 overdose calls in Maple Ridge, as opposed to last year’s total of 492 over the entire year.
According to BCEHS communications officer Shannon Miller, such a high number is usually associated with larger communities such as Victoria and Surrey.
“The community of Maple Ridge has been experiencing exceptionally high overdose call volumes,” said Miller, adding that just during the month of July, paramedics responded to 125 overdose calls, a 92 per cent increase over the previous month’s overdose calls.
In June, paramedics responded to 46 overdose calls.
“August appears to be another high month for overdoses in the community. To date in August, there have been 96 calls for overdoses in Maple Ridge,” she said.
Miller confirmed that July 2021 was the highest in terms of overdoses ever recorded in a single month in the province. Paramedics responded to 3,606 overdose calls across B.C. in July alone.
“We also had the highest single day [overdoses] on July 22; 175 overdoses were recorded in B.C. in one 24-hour period,” she said adding, of those calls, Maple Ridge had 11 overdose calls.
BCEHS paramedics are responding to an average of 100 overdose calls every day, according to the data. Miller explained that the paramedics have also been administering more Naloxone than ever before due to the potency and toxicity of the drugs.
If someone overdoses, Fraser Health is urging the public to call 9-1-1 and stay with them, give one breath every five seconds, and administer Naloxone.
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