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Multiple Island and Coast communities see massive rises in overdose calls: BCEHS

Many Island and Coast community paramedics are seeing large increases in overdose calls, especially over the last eight years.

That’s according to data from BC Emergency Health Services who released data for 2023 calls alongside past years until 2016.

According to the data, Nanaimo saw the largest increase in calls. The city recorded 512 overdose calls in 2016. That number for 2023 increased to 2,136, more than doubling the 2022 number of 1,059, which is also the largest increase in the eight years of data.

The Comox Valley, meanwhile, saw 659 calls in the area last year. That’s compared with 92 in 2016. The area also saw its biggest jump between 2020 and 2021 where calls more than doubled from 206 to 467.

Duncan also saw a large increase in calls when compared to 2016. With a difference of 657, the city saw one of the highest totals last year at 819.

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Campbell River also reported a similar number with 152 recorded in 2016 compared to 681 in 2023.

Other smaller communities on the Island and Coast saw large increases, but in smaller numbers. Port Hardy for example has seen its call numbers more than double from 2016 with 62 calls last year.

Powell River, meanwhile, hit 124 last year compared with 49 in 2016. However, that is down nearly 70 calls from 2022.

Sechelt is a similar story, according to the data. The area recorded 109 last year compared with 25 in 2016. However, its highest call year was in 2022 with 142 calls.

BC EHS says there was a 119 per cent increase in overall calls province wide since 2016. Island Health, meanwhile, also saw the highest increase of any health authority at 45 per cent.

In earlier data, the province says 33 people lost their lives to toxic drugs or about five per cent of calls. One-hundred twelve lost their lives in Nanaimo, meaning around five per cent of calls as well.

Around six per cent lost their lives compared to calls in Campbell River and another five per cent lost their lives in Duncan compared to calls.

BC EHS adds June 21 saw the highest daily call volume at 221 and paramedics saw an average of 116 overdose calls per day in B.C.

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