Year-end figures from the BC Coroner’s office put the 2018 drug overdose death toll at 29 in Langley alone. File

Coroners office reports 29 fatal drug overdoses in Langley in 2018

Dealing with drug overdoses, fatal or not, creates serious stress for first responders.

By Bob Groeneveld/Langley Advance Times

.

Firefighters are often the first responders when an overdose is reported, and the stress of those encounters is a heavy burden.

Year-end figures from the BC Coroner’s office put the 2018 drug overdose death toll at 29 in Langley alone.

“Most of those will be in Langley City” said Russ Jenkins, Deputy Fire Chief for the Township of Langley, adding, “We do deal with it quite a bit.”

It’s of little comfort that the numbers are worse in Abbotsford (40) and Chilliwack (35).

Not all of the calls for assistance from fire departments result in fatalities, Jenkins pointed out, but they’re all difficult to deal with emotionally.

“It’s not exactly uplifting,” Jenkins said, “but when you can do something this time, it does make our responders feel a bit better.”

That’s tempered with the realization that “this time” is often not the first overdose for the person they’re helping.

“And it’s probably not their last,” said Jenkins. “You’re just here to help them get through this situation.”

READ MORE: Number of homeless deaths more than doubled in B.C. as opioid crisis set in

Firefighters can now carry naloxone nasal spray, a medication used to block the effects of opioids, especially in overdose.

But that’s really just a kind of first aid measure to keep overdose victims going until they can receive further medical attention.

There’s no tracking for first responders to know what has happened to someone after they’ve done their part, so they don’t always know what happens to the people after they’ve done what they can.

“There are times when they don’t know,” said Jenkins.

And that does little to alleviate the stress.

“They’re responding to people from all walks of life,” he said. “Lots of times they’re people you wouldn’t expect to be using those types of substances. We can be called to basement suites or big homes.”

“You feel empathy for the people in this position.”

It all adds stress to responders who also deal with traffic accidents and fires and other emergencies that can bring them in direct contact with fatalities.

READ MORE: Nowhere to grieve: How homeless people deal with loss during the opioid crisis

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C. government invests $7.5 million through Creative BC to help struggling musicians

Bob D’Eith, MLA for Maple Ridge-Mission, led industry consultations on supports during the pandemic

Fort Gallery re-opens part time to public with exhibition of artist Richard Bond’s work

Fraser Prospect continues Fraser River themed project that the gallery began in January

Langley beekeepers on alert for giant honeybee-murdering hornets recently sighted

Aldergrove beekeeper Bryn Jones ‘concerned’ after South Langley giant Asian hornet sighting

McLeod Athletic Park still closed as $5 million upgrades near completion

Park will host National Track and Field Championships and BC High School Championships

Beatniks Bistro donates $4,000 to Langley School District Foundation

Executive director Susan Cairns said $32,500 is spent every week to help feed Langley families

B.C. records four new COVID-19 cases, Abbotsford hospital outbreak cleared

Four senior home outbreaks also declared over, eight still active

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

Thanks for helping the Aldergrove Star to continue its mission to provide trusted local news

RCMP, coroner investigate murder-suicide on Salt Spring Island

Two dead, police say there is no risk to the public

About 30% of B.C. students return to schools as in-class teaching restarts amid pandemic

Education minister noted that in-class instruction remains optional

Trudeau avoids questions about anti-racism protesters dispersed for Trump photo-op

Prime minister says racism is an issue Canadians must tackle at home, too

B.C.’s Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics goes virtual

The annual event partnering RCMP with Special Olympians is dramatically altered by COVID-19

Bateman program encourages people to sketch outside, connect with nature

#MyNatureSketch initiative encourages Canadians to become ‘bright-eyed three year olds’

Be cautious expanding COVID-19 bubble, Dr. Bonnie Henry tells B.C.

Senior homes stay off-limits as schools, businesses reopen

Most Read