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

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

A memorial to Hudson Brooks grew quickly outside the South Surrey RCMP detachment following his July 2015 death at the hands of police. (File photo)
Inquest yields ‘sliver of justice’ for South Surrey’s Hudson Brooks: brother

Beau Brooks says he’s not optimistic call for increased RCMP training will bear fruit

Send us letters to the editor through our website or social media channels. (Ludger Aundrup photo)
LETTER: The more Langley woman learns about the world, the more she loves Canada

A year into the pandemic, local letter writer praises government handling of difficult situation

The family of injured Willoughby resident Ronald Gerald Jesso is hoping someone saw something that will help solve the mystery of how he came to be so badly hurt on the morning of Feb. 22. Jesso is still in hospital. (Jesso family/Special to Langley Advance Times)
An appeal to help solve the mystery of an injured Langley man

Family of Ronald Gerald Jesso asks witnesses to come forward

Liberty roses – created by acclaimed rose breeder Brad Jalbert – will be planted in White Rock later this month. (Contributed photo)
‘Liberty Rose’ to be planted along Johnston Road and at White Rock City Hall

Poppy-like rose created by acclaimed rose breeder Brad Jalbert

Free Reformed Church is seen as people attend service, in Chilliwack, B.C., on Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021. Lawyers for the British Columbia government and the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms are back in B.C. Supreme Court today, squaring off over the legality of COVID-19 rules that prohibit in-person religious services. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. top doctor has power to restrict access to a place during health hazard: lawyer

Under B.C.’s Public Health Act, Jacqueline Hughes says, Henry can restrict or prevent entry to a place

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

During a press event on March 6, Const. Alex Berube, media relations officer for the West Shore RCMP, addressed a deadly shooting that occurred in Metchosin the night before. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
VIDEO: One man shot dead on Vancouver Island in ‘targeted incident’

Highway 14 reopens following multi-hour closure for investigation

B.C. RCMP Lower Mainland District officer, Asst. Commissioner Stephen Thatcher presents RCMP blankets to (from left) Chief James Hobart, Chief Maureen Chapman, Chief Derek Epp and Chief Mark Point. (RCMP)
Historic agreement significantly expands Indigenous role in Lower Mainland policing

Community Safety Agreement builds relationship of ‘trust, communication and prevention,’ says Chief

More than ever before, as pandemic conditions persist, the threat of data breaches and cyberattacks continues to grow, according to SFU professor Michael Parent. (Pixabay photo)
SFU expert unveils 5 ways the COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed cybersecurity

Recognizing these changes is the first in a series of steps to mitigate them once the pandemic ends, and before the next: Michael Parent

Most Read