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Vancouver overdoses taking longer, more naloxone to reverse

(iStock Photo)

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – It’s getting harder for emergency responders to deal with Vancouver’s overdose crisis, because of the volume of calls and the influx of stronger drugs.

In the week from September 11th to 17th the Vancouver Police Department says there were four suspected overdose deaths.

In the same week, there were 93 overdose calls to Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services, bringing the total for 2017 so far up to 4,919. That’s higher than the 2016 total of 4,709 calls, and the City is predicting we’ll see more than 7,000 calls by the end of the year.

Jonathan Gormick with Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services says overdoses are not only increasing, but the influx of carfentanil and other stronger chemical structures means it’s taking longer to revive people.

“More and more of the overdoses take more doses of naloxone to reverse. That’s difficult because our scope of practice limits us to two administrations.”

Gormick says while attention on the overdose crisis has faded a bit, it’s only getting worse.

“We need to get people’s attention on the need for overdose prevention and that’s obviously one of the more expensive strategies and one of the more difficult solves for all levels of government.”

Gormick says another challenge is reducing the stigma of drug use outside of the Downtown Eastside so people obtain naloxone kits and let their friends and family know when they’re using.

There have been more than 230 overdose deaths in Vancouver this year.