Surge in overdose calls prompt $5 million injection for paramedic response

Record number of drug-related overdose calls to 911 in past week in B.C.

First responders treat an overdose victim in Surrey.

A record number of overdose-related calls has prompted B.C.’s health ministry to provide an extra $5 million to help increase the response by paramedics.

B.C. had the highest-ever number of overdose-related 911 calls in the past week, with 494 suspected overdoses or poisonings in Greater Vancouver from Nov. 17-23. That included 271 in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and 81 in Surrey.

“Our paramedics are feeling tremendous pressure as they respond to this public health emergency on the front lines,” said Health Minister Terry Lake.

B.C. Emergency Health Services will set up stationary medical support units in high overdose locations – including the Downtown Eastside and a high-overdose area of Surrey.

The special units will act as a resupply station for paramedics, and provide information and triage to drug users.

Paramedics will also use bikes or ATVs to more quickly reach victims in high-overdose areas that can be hard to navigate by ambulance.

Money will also help fund provide more support to assist paramedics and dispatchers with triaging and more efficient handover of patients at busy hospitals.

The extra money for paramedic support is the latest in a series of steps by the B.C. government to address the overdose death crisis declared by public health officials last spring.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Frontline volunteers bring handwashing stations to Pandora tent city and beyond

‘The basic premise of this is to fight COVID-19 … right?’

Greater Victoria resident sick with COVID-19 calls it a ‘horrible disease’

Tim Boat says he has ‘extreme coughing fits every hour’ to clear his lungs

Victoria to reassess 2020 budget in light of COVID-19; more hotel rooms found for the homeless

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps provided an update on municipal measures on March 31

Tents, sleeping bags donated to Our Place from local Victoria store

Robinson’s Outdoor Store received funds from PwC Canada to make the donation

Victoria police seek public help finding high-risk missing woman last seen on ferry

Mariah Konchak has shoulder-length dark hair, scars above her right eye and may be missing a tooth

B.C. records five new COVID-19 deaths, ‘zero chance’ life will return to normal in April

Province continue to have a recovery rate of about 50 per cent

6.5-magnitude earthquake in Idaho shakes B.C. Interior

An earthquake was reportedly felt just before 5 p.m. throughout the Okanagan

John Horgan extends B.C.’s state of emergency for COVID-19

Premier urges everyone to follow Dr. Bonnie Henry’s advice

B.C.’s first community COVID-19 death was dentist ‘dedicated’ to health: lawyer

Vincent was 64 when he died on March 22 after attending the Pacific Dental Conference

Two inmates at prison housing Robert Pickton test positive for COVID-19

Correctional Service of Canada did not release any details on the identities of the inmates

BC SPCA launches matching campaign to help vulnerable animals after big donations

Two BC SPCA donors have offered up to $65,000 in matching donations

Quarantined B.C. mom say pandemic has put special-needs families in ‘crisis mode’

Surrey’s Christine Williams shares family’s challenges, strengths

Anti-tax group calls for MPs, senators to donate scheduled pay raises to charity

Bill C-30, adopted 15 years ago, mandates the salary and allowance increases each calendar year

Liberals delay release of 75% wage subsidy details, costs: Morneau

Program will provide up to $847 per week for each worker

Most Read