Health Minister Terry Lake has announced a $5 million boost in funding for B.C. Emergency Health Services to respond to the opioid overdose crisis.
Lake says B.C. had the highest number of overdose-related 911 calls ever recorded over the past week with a particularly big spike in Greater Vancouver, where paramedics responded to 494 suspected overdose or poisoning events.
“Our paramedics are feeling tremendous pressure as they respond to this public health emergency on the frontlines,” said Lake. “We know they have saved thousands of lives in this crisis, and today we are making sure they’re supported in this daunting task with much needed resources.”
Over the past week, B.C. had the highest number of overdose-related 911 calls ever recorded. Between November 17th and 23rd, BCEHS paramedics responded to 494 suspected overdose/poisoning events in Greater Vancouver alone.
A number of strategies will be implemented to boost ambulance resources and staffing in the coming weeks, including more flexible modes of transportation for first responders and more supervisory support to assist paramedics and dispatchers.
“This funding will allow BCEHS to make sure we can respond to the unprecedented number of overdose patients adequately,” said BCEHS executive vice president, Linda Lupini.
Since the health emergency was declared in B.C. this spring, BCEHS has joined efforts with the Ministry of Health, the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, the B.C. Coroners Service and the police, amongst others, to try and find solutions to the overdose crisis.