Overdoses across province hit record as prevention resources announced
B.C. paramedics have recorded their busiest month for overdoses since the health crisis began in 2016.
During July, paramedics were called out to 2,706 overdoses — about 87 overdoses a day — across the province, according to new figures from B.C. Emergency Health Services. It’s the highest monthly number of overdoses recorded since November 2016 and since the public health emergency was declared four years ago. The average number of overdoses handled by ambulance paramedics is about 2,000 a month.
“There have been devastating consequences for people who use substances during dual public health emergencies,” said Judy Darcy, minister of Mental Health and Addictions in a statement Tuesday.
“Last month saw a record number of lives lost to overdose — all the more heartbreaking since before COVID19 we had managed to bring deaths down for the first time.”
Darcy’s comments come as the province announced the scaling up of overdose prevention services, expanded access to a safe drug supply and added new outreach teams.
As part of the expanded measures, 17 new supervised consumption sites and 12 new inhalation services are slated to open in communities hit the hardest by the overdose crisis. A total of 42 additional full-time registered nurses, psychiatric nurses, social workers and peer support workers are being added to new and existing outreach teams.
According to Emergency
Health Services, no community was safe from overdoses in July, with many happening in small communities across the province, though Vancouver, Surrey and Victoria still recorded the largest number of overdoses.
Of the overdoses recorded in July, 65.4 per cent were men compared with 34.4 per cent who were women, with the largest number of overdoses recorded in the 21-40 age group. Paramedics are urging people not to use drugs alone and to call 911 if someone is experiencing an overdose.
In calls where a paramedic is able to respond, the individual has a more than 95-percent chance of survival.