13 overdose deaths in Waterloo region so far this year: Police report

A report to the Waterloo Regional Police Services Board reveals the number of drug overdoses and deaths have gone down this year in comparison to last.

Overdoses from carfentanil 'sometimes requires multiple doses of naloxone,' police say

Waterloo Regional Police Service officers administered naloxone 11 times so far this year. A new report by police found the number of overdoses and overdose deaths this year are down in the region compared to 2017, but paramedics report the number of overdose-related calls are up. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

Since Jan. 1 of this year, 13 people have died from drug overdoses in Waterloo region, according to numbers released by Waterloo Regional Police Service's investigative services division.

Of those, seven were in Kitchener.

The report, presented to the Waterloo Regional Police Services Board on Wednesday, said fentanyl continues to be a significant problem in the region.

Carfentanil, a fentanyl variant that's much more potent, "has become prevalent in the region," the report said. 

"Officers and paramedics are finding that reviving overdose patients now sometimes requires multiple doses of naloxone and increased medical care," the report said. 

Overall, the number of reported drug overdoses have decreased compared to last year, the report said.

Between February to April of this year there were 112 reported drug overdoses compared to 142 during the same three months in 2017.

The number of deaths also decreased. So far this year, there have been 13 deaths, compared to 21 between February to April in 2017. January 2017 was not included in the count because of a "change in coding," the report said.

Earlier this month, paramedics reported overdose-related calls are up. Between January and March of this year, paramedics responded to 184 opioid overdose-related calls compared to the 157 calls during the same three months of 2017.

(Waterloo Regional Police Service)

Naloxone more readily available

Police said the fatal overdoses happen in residential and suburban areas, "as opposed to public places or shelters."

The maps included in the report also show non-fatal overdoses happening in certain clusters – downtown Kitchener and Galt are two of them.

This year, police have used naloxone 11 times to save overdose victims. From the beginning of the naloxone program in May 2017, there has been a total of 33 times when police officers used naloxone.

Police said in some cases, victims are revived by people who have naloxone kits. Then, those who are revived either don't require further involvement from emergency services or decline help.

Waterloo Region Paramedic Services deputy chief Robert Crossan said paramedics only use naloxone as a last resort. Instead, they prefer keeping the victim alive with other methods to get them to hospital. That way the person can be admitted into the care system and access other services.

Waterloo Regional Police seized this purple substance, suspected to contain fentanyl, on March 22. Police say overdoses and overdose deaths are down in 2018 compared to a year earlier. (WRPS)