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Paramedics responded to record number of overdose calls in July

The overdose crisis is tightening its grip on B.C.

According to BC Emergency Health Services, paramedics responded to 2,706 overdose calls in July, which is an average of 87 a day across B.C.

This was the highest number of monthly OD’s recorded since the overdose crisis was declared in 2016.

It was especially bad in Campbell River, where paramedics responded to double the monthly average overdose calls during July (31 compared to 15).

Courtney’s overdoses responses were also high, with 21 compared to the average of 12.

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Powell River had its average number of six overdose calls. 

Port Hardy’s numbers remained low, with one call compared to its average of three.

Highest number of calls in Vancouver, Surrey

The average number in B.C. is usually about 2,000 overdose calls a month

There were overdoses across the province, in many small communities, but the highest numbers are in the metro centres in Vancouver, Surrey and Victoria.

BCEHS shared these OD numbers: 

  • Almost double the number of males to females (65.4 per cent versus 34.4 per cent)
  • The largest number overdoses recorded were among 21-40-year-olds

A BCEHS spokesperson said, “We’re very proud of our paramedics and our emergency call-takers professionalism and dedication to overdose patient care,” noting that medical emergency call takers are often giving support on the phone to 9-1-1 callers (helping someone with a Narcan kit) and coaching people until the first responders and paramedics arrive.

BCEHS says paramedics and dispatchers “have saved the lives of many overdose patients since the crisis began.”

When paramedics respond to a potential overdose patient, the patient has a more than 95 per cent chance of survival.

 Paramedics stress the importance of not using alone, and to call 9-1-1 if you see someone who may be experiencing an overdose.

The BC Coroner’s office reports the vast majority of overdose deaths happen when people use alone because there is no one to call 9-1-1.

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