BC paramedics record highest one-day total for overdose calls

Jun 30 2020, 4:32 pm

In the middle of what health officials in BC have said are two public health emergencies – the coronavirus pandemic and the overdose crisis – BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) said they have now set a grim new record in the province: the most overdose calls in a single day.

On Twitter, BCEHS said that this past Friday, paramedics responded to a total of 131 overdoses – the most recorded in a single day.

This number, they noted, is “double [the] average daily [number] of overdoses.” These calls “were across BC, from Chilliwack to Cowichan.”

The news comes just a couple weeks after the BC Coroners Service reported that in May of this year, the province recorded its 170 overdose-related deaths in May – the highest-ever one-month total.

This number surpasses the previous death toll high of 161 reported in December of 2016. And in its report, the BCEHS said the province has now recorded three consecutive months with over 100 illicit drug toxicity deaths.

Speaking about the report at the time, Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe noted that the figures came “four years after the declaration of a public health emergency” regarding illicit drug overdose deaths in BC.

“Despite the many collective efforts directed at this crisis, the toxic drug supply continues to take the lives of our family members, friends, and colleagues,” she said. “We still know that illicit drug toxicity death rates in BC remain the highest for any jurisdiction in Canada, and every region in BC has been impacted.”

That said, Lapointe added that “were it not for the dedicated efforts taken to date, the death toll would be higher,” a fact that the BCEHS confirmed in its tweet, as well.

“When paramedics respond to an overdose a patient has a 99% chance of survival,” the BCEHS said.