Paramedics responded to 1,368 overdose calls in Abbotsford in 2021, a 46 per cent increase over 2020 when it was 936.
BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) released data on overdose calls across the province Wednesday (Jan. 12). Their chart shows dramatic rises across the board in almost all communities. Those numbers are most dramatic in larger cities.
Abbotsford is one of only seven B.C. cities that had more than 1,000 overdose calls last year. The others were Kamloops (1,068), Prince George (1,305), Kelowna (1,588), Victoria (1,952), Surrey (3,674) and Vancouver with 9,993 overdose calls.
In total, paramedics across B.C. responded to a record 35,525 overdose calls last year, up 31 per cent compared to 2020. That works out to about 97 per day. In Abbotsford, that is about 3.7 calls per day.
However, in reality, many days are busier than others. BCEHS said in their report that the worst month for calls was in July.
The rise in calls in Abbotsford goes hand in hand with the rise in overdoses. While the 2021 totals for overdoses have not been released yet by the BC Coroners Service, by the end of October 2021, Abbotsford had already seen 68 overdose deaths. In 2016, that number was 40 and in 2011 it was 16.
Chilliwack had 821 overdose calls in 2021, and Mission had 397. Both those cities also have significant increases over the past five years.
People who use opioids are reminded to use the Lifeguard app and to not use alone.
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