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

Kootenay teachers’ union going to labour relations board over COVID-19 related work conditions

Union issues open letter to premier, education minister, health minister and Dr. Bonnie Henry.

Two men killed in Hwy 3 collision west of Castlegar

The single-vehicle incident happened Thursday morning

Rec commission applies for grant for Castlegar Community Complex upgrades

Arena roof repairs and fitness centre expansion included in proposal

Central Mountain Air to offer flights out of Castlegar

The company will be offering Castlegar to Vancouver flights October 1.

UPDATE: Driver sent to hospital after three-vehicle collision in Castlegar

Incident involved a semi-truck and two other vehicles

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

70-year-old punched in the head in dispute over disability parking space in Nanaimo

Senior’s turban knocked off in incident at mall parking lot

CHARTS: Beyond Metro Vancouver, COVID-19 cases in B.C. haven’t increased much recently

COVID-19 case counts outside of Metro Vancouver have been level since July

Record-breaking 165 new COVID-19 cases diagnosed in B.C. in 24-hour period

Fifty-seven people are in hospital battling the novel coronavirus

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

Interior Health reports four new cases of COVID-19

First hospitalization since mid-August announced

B.C.’s COVID-19 economic recovery plan: Top 5 things you need to know

Jobs training, tax incentives for employers to hire staff and more

March to protect old growth, stop industrial logging coming to B.C. Legislature

Organizers say they want to give frontline communities a bigger say in nearby logging

Most Read