Overdose calls in July reached new record, B.C. paramedics report
Paramedics responded to 2,706 overdose calls in July
July saw paramedics in British Columbia respond to the highest number of overdose calls in a month since the overdose emergency was declared four years ago.
Across the province, paramedics responded to 2,706 overdose calls in July, well above the usual monthly average of around 2,000 calls, B.C. Emergency Health Services said in an email.
That works out to about 87 calls per day.
The ambulance service did not report death numbers, which are tracked by the BC Coroners Service. It did say that when paramedics respond to a potential overdose, the survival rate of patients is over 95 per cent.
"We're very proud of our paramedics' and our emergency call-takers' professionalism and dedication to overdose patient care," a spokesperson with B.C. Emergency Health Services wrote in an email.
"Paramedics want to stress the importance of not using alone, and to call 911 if you see someone who may be experiencing an overdose.
"The BC Coroners office reports the vast majority of overdose deaths happen when people use alone."
The ambulance service said the largest number of overdose calls concerned patients between the ages of 21 and 40. Male patients outnumbered female patients almost two to one.
The three cities with the largest number of calls in July were Vancouver with 739, Surrey with 244 and Victoria with 139.
July's numbers are part of a string of concerning developments in B.C.'s overdose crisis.
Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe said overdoses killed 175 people in June, up from 171 in May.
Prior to May, the worst month on record was December 2016, when 161 lives were lost.
On June 26, B.C. Emergency Health Services reported 131 overdose calls, the highest for a single day since the crisis began.