B.C. paramedics respond to record number of overdose calls in July - InfoNews

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B.C. paramedics respond to record number of overdose calls in July

Image Credit: Flickr/BC Ambulance
August 05, 2020 - 3:20 PM

B.C. paramedics responded to a record-breaking number of overdose calls last month, with Kelowna and Kamloops placing in the top 10 for cities with the highest numbers of calls.

In July, paramedics responded to 2,706 calls, or 87 overdose calls a day, the highest number of monthly overdoses recorded since the overdose crisis was announced in 2016, Shannon Miller with B.C. Emergency Health Services said in an email. The average is usually around 2,000 calls a month.

The highest number of overdoses in the province are in metro cities including Vancouver (739 calls), Surrey (244), Victoria (139) and Kelowna (138). Kamloops also ranked seventh with 89 calls. Penticton and Vernon both reported 36 overdose calls last month.

READ MORE: Another record month of drug overdose deaths in B.C.: Chief Coroner

The largest demographic of callers were men, (65 per cent compared to woman at 34 per cent) and the largest age group were those between the ages of 21 and 40.

“Paramedics want to stress the importance of not using alone, and to call 9-1-1 if you see someone who may be experiencing an overdose,” Miller said in the email. “When (B.C. Emergency Health Services) paramedics respond to a potential overdose patient, the patient has a more than 95 per cent chance of survival.”

In June, the B.C. Coroners Service reported a record number of overdose-related deaths across the province. May also had record numbers for overdose deaths.

"We know the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted people who use drugs, as it has all British Columbians. Access to key harm reduction services has been a challenge and our social networks are smaller," chief coroner Lisa Lapointe said in July.

A coroner's report said there was an increase in the number of cases with extreme fentanyl concentrations (exceeding 50 micrograms per litre) in April, May and June, compared with previous months.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Carli Berry or call 250-864-7494 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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