100 Mile House B.C. Emergency Health Services. (File photo)

Overdose calls drop in 100 Mile but continue to grow throughout Interior

The lowest it’s been in five years

Drug-related deaths across the Interior region are decreasing but paramedics are continuing to respond to a high volume of calls from overdoses.

In 2019, the number of deaths was nearly cut in half with 233 deaths in 2018 to 114 in 2019, according to a B.C. Coroner Service report. The number of overdose calls which remained steady for the past three years now doubled. The BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) responded to 24,166 overdose calls which averaged to be roughly 66 calls each day for a potential overdose.

Interior Health made up 13 per cent of calls with a total of 3,097.

“Although the number of overdose calls in 100 Mile House is small compared to many communities in BC, there was a significant decline in overdose calls in 2019,” said Shannon Miller, the spokesperson for BC Emergency Health Services.

There were nine reported calls in 100 Mile House for overdoses during 2019. This is the lowest it has been in the last five years.

Related: Overdose deaths down 30% so far in 2019, B.C. officials ‘cautiously optimistic’

“BCEHS paramedics and dispatchers have saved the lives of many overdose patients since the crisis began in 2016,” said Miller.

According to RCMP Staff. Sgt. Svend Nielsen, two reported deaths in 100 Mile House in 2019 involved illicit drugs that may have been a result of overdoses. Nielsen said a toxicology report will confirm if those deaths are linked to an overdose but that information could take months before it’s reported back to the detachment.

The number of calls in Williams Lake was the highest it’s been in the past five years with 78 reported calls. The highest for 100 Mile was in 2016 with 17 reported calls.

Here is a closer look at some of the top communities in B.C. for overdose calls in 2019: Vancouver – 8,589, Surrey – 2,151, Victoria – 1,412, Kelowna – 869, Prince George – 626, Kamloops – 626. Vancouver, Surrey and Victoria remain the top three communities for overdose calls.

“In 100 Mile House, education and supports are available through mental health and substance use services at the 100 Mile House Health Centre,” said Corinne Dolman, Substance Use Director for Interior Health. “Take-home Naloxone distribution numbers in the area show that 623 kits have been distributed since 2016 with 82 reported being used.”

Naloxone is available in five public locations in 100 Mile including the 100 Mile House Health Centre, Pharmasave, Save-on-Foods and White Feather Family Centre.

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