VICTORIA, CANADA - MARCH 25: BC Ambulance Services stock photography session March 25, 2013 in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.  (Photo by Jeff Vinnick Images)

Paramedics responding to increased volume of overdose calls

Data released by BC Emergency Health Services shows a rising provincial trend of overdose responses

Paramedics in Cranbrook have responded to an increasing amount of overdose calls over the last five years, according to data released by BC Emergency Health Services.

In 2016, paramedics responded to 49 overdose calls in Cranbrook, a figure that doubled up to 104 incidents in 2020.

In Kimberley, paramedics responded to 18 overdose calls in 2016; however, call volumes slightly dipped briefly over the following two years, before climbing back up to 16 in 2020.

Provincially, paramedics responded to 27,067 calls for overdose response in 2020, a 12 per cent increase from the previous year.

“It’s hard for every paramedic who goes to those scenes,” says Penticton paramedic Unit Chief Pat Hussey, in a BC EHS media release, noting that overdose-related calls are becoming more complex with drug toxicity and having to administer multiple doses of nalaxone to patients.

In the Interior Health region, overdose calls have also increased from 2,599 in 2016 to 4,211 in 2020. In Vancouver, B.C.’s largest urban community, paramedics responded to an average of 22 overdose calls a day.

Prior to the onset of the opioid crisis, annual overdose calls fluctuated between 10,000 — 15,000 between 2004-2015.

Overdose calls in Cranbrook

2016 – 49

2017 – 65

2018- 75

2019- 78

2020 – 104

Overdose calls in Kimberley

2016- 18

2017- 10

2018 – 9

2019- 15

2020 – 16

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