Drug overdoses are again on the rise in the Fraser Health region, including Maple Ridge.
From Oct. 21 to 29, there were nine overdose calls that the Maple Ridge Fire Department responded to, said Fire Chief Howard Exner.
He could not say whether there were any fatalities among the overdoses, but said that is a higher rate than the department has been seeing.
On Oct. 27, Fraser Health issued an alert following 12 overdoses in a four-hour period last Friday night. It said no particular substance had been identified as a cause.
The health authority noted the actual number could be higher because not all overdoses are reported.
Exner said most of the overdoses in Maple Ridge are happening downtown. He described a 500-metre radius from the corner of 222nd Street and Lougheed Highway as the area that would encompass the majority of the calls.
Fraser Health advised drug users to not do so alone, if possible. If alone: have a plan for someone to check on you; stagger use with friends so someone can respond if needed; test by using small amounts first and go slowly; and do not use with alcohol or other drugs.
If someone does overdose, Fraser Health says to call 911 immediately, make sure a person’s airway is open and give breaths, as well as administer naloxone (Narcan), if available.
These have been the recommendations since the Provincial Health Officer declared a state of emergency in April 2016 in response to a surge in overdoses.
Nearly 900 people have died as a result of opioid-related overdoses in 2018. More than 3,300 have succumbed to fatal overdoses since the death toll nearly doubled in 2016.