Hope-area paramedics responded to almost twice as many overdose callouts in 2021 as they did in 2020.
BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) monitors ‘potential overdose call volumes’ province wide. According to numbers released in mid-January, there were 80 such callouts in Hope last year, up from 46 in 2021 and 40 in 2020.
Going back six years to 2016, there were only 33, and Hope’s sharp rise mirrors what’s going on elsewhere in B.C.
Paramedics across the province responded to a record 35,525 overdose calls last year, which works out to about 97 per day.
In Agassiz, the 2021 number was 60, almost double the 33 recorded in 2019 and 2020.
In Chilliwack, there were 821 callouts, up from 548 in 2020, and in Abbotsford there were 1,368 callouts, up from 936 in 2020.
Abbotsford had the fifth highest number in B.C. behind Vancouver (9,993), Surrey (3,674), Victoria (1,952) and Kelowna (1,588).
The province recorded 1,782 overdose deaths due to illicit drugs in the first 10 months of 2021. Data for November and December is not yet available but the death toll reported in just the first 10 months of last year had already broken the record set in 2020 by 17 deaths.
“Once again, we are reporting record numbers of deaths in our province due to the toxic illicit drug supply,” said Lisa Lapointe, chief coroner, at the end of November. “The tremendous loss being felt by families and communities across B.C. as they mourn loved ones lost far too soon is heartbreaking.”
– with files from Katya Slepian