The Vancouver heat wave that has brought record breaking temperatures to the west coast since the weekend may be the deadliest extreme heat event to ever hit the region.
Greater Vancouver alone saw 65 sudden deaths related to the heat since Friday, and when you factor in the numbers from Surrey and Burnaby, at least 125 people have died due to the heat.
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Heat-related deaths have exhausted frontline resources, according to the VPD. Response times have been severely delayed across the city, with a system that has already been heavily burdened.
As of 1:45 pm today, officers already had responded to 20 heat-related sudden deaths.
“We’ve never seen anything like this, and it breaks our hearts. If you have an elderly or vulnerable family member, please give them a call or stop by to check on them,” said Sergeant Steve Addison in a statement.
#VPDNews: Vancouver Police are redeploying dozens of officers and are pleading for people to only call 9-1-1 during emergencies, as heat-related deaths have depleted front-line resources and severely delayed response times throughout the city. https://t.co/vjlLB9YmO2 pic.twitter.com/VqkE7juEtP
— Vancouver Police (@VancouverPD) June 29, 2021
Responding to sudden death calls is not a new phenomenon for the VPD. They typically respond to about three or four sudden death calls per day.
However, since the onset of the heat wave, the VPD has been responding to 14 heat-related sudden death calls per day on average.
“We’re asking everyone to be patient and to understand that we’re doing everything we can to respond to your calls for help,” added Sgt. Addison.
Burnaby RCMP reported that in a 24-hour period since Monday, they had responded to 25 heat-related sudden death calls. Between Monday and Tuesday, Surrey RCMP responded to 35 sudden death calls.
The final death toll could be much higher.