Paramedics and RCMP members recently patrolled various tents along 135A Street near 107 Avenue in Whalley checking on the welfare of the marginalized people living along the street. A university study shows while drug overdoses are clustered around this area

No overdose hot spot: Report

Study shows firefighters critical in delivering life-saving support as fentanyl deaths are occurring all over Surrey.

Fentanyl overdoses in the region are occurring with no geographic predictability, according to a recent report.

It means firefighters, usually the first to arrive on scene in an emergency, are often the difference between life and death.

A Response to Illicit Drug Overdoses, a University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) study, examines the administration of naloxone in Surrey and Vancouver – two cities seeing the highest number of overdose fatalities in the province.

Naloxone is used to counteract the effects of opioid overdose.

Lead researcher Martha Dow, sociology professor with the UFV, points out that first responders successfully reversed 240 opioid overdoses in the two cities last year.

The study focused on the experiences of first responders on the front lines of the drug crisis in Vancouver and Surrey.

The BC Coroner’s Office has noted that overdoses in the past 10 years have been highest in those two cities.

From 2015 to 2016, the number of overdoses in Vancouver shot up 85 per cent, while in Surrey, during the same period, the overdose increased by 63 per cent.

From January 2015 to December 2016, the number of overdoses in Surrey went from 4.2 to 8.6 per day, while in Vancouver during the same period, it went from 5.8 to 25.6.

The report indicates there are clusters of overdoses in each city, namely a figure eight-shaped area along King George Boulevard in Surrey between 100 and 108 Avenues, and on the Downtown Eastside in Vancouver.

However, while the report notes while there are clusters, drug overdoses are occurring with no geographic boundaries.

“Based on the location of overdoses occurring everywhere in both cities, the opportunity for fire first responders to arrive quickly and administer naloxone is significant,” the report says.

Having firefighters with the right training has been key to that result.

“The increasing number of overdoses coupled with the reality that fire services’ average response times are lower than those of BCAS (BC Ambulance Service) underscore the importance of continually enhancing fire first responder skill sets,” the report states.

Expanding on those skill sets would be extremely beneficial, the report notes.

Firefighters agreed, telling the authors of the report: “More training is never a bad thing.”

The study goes on to say that discussions at municipal fire halls indicate firefighters are afraid they are only conducting Band-Aid measures by administering life-saving naloxone to drug addicts.

“At all four halls was a sense of despair of ‘overwhelming system failures to deal with the root causes of drug abuse’, “ the report states. “Hall participants voiced frustration at the plight of the patients they respond to on a daily basis, asking questions such as ‘there has got to be a better plan, isn’t there?’ and ‘why can’t we make them get treatment?’ and ‘is it possible that we are actually making the problem worse by enabling destructive behaviour?’ ”

The report found firefighters were responding well to training and welcomed more of it to increase their confidence.

It also found the emergency response system needs to acknowledge the intended and unintended consequences of naloxone interventions.

Dow’s report was co-authored by Dr. Katherine Watson, a researcher working in education and health, and Dr. William Dick, vice-president of medical programs for B.C. Emergency Health Services, and was conducted with input from Surrey and Vancouver fire services.

 

Just Posted

Surrey veteran talks about the emotional side of war

Reginald Wise served in the Royal Marines in WWII

PHOTOS: White Rock marks Remembrance Day

Hundreds of people gathered Monday morning to give thanks to veterans

VIDEO: One injured in north Surrey shooting Sunday

Male victim taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries

VIDEO: Quidditch Canada’s Western Regional Championship flies into Surrey

Harry Potter-inspired event is at Hjorth Road Park

BCTF rejects mediator’s recommendations for settlement

Negotiations between B.C. teachers and the province will continue

VIDEO: Hong Kong police shoot protester, man set on fire

It was the second protester shot since the demonstrations began in early June

Sportsnet fires Don Cherry after negative comments about immigrants

Don Cherry had said immigrants don’t wear poppies like other Canadians do

Trudeau’s new cabinet: Gender parity because it’s 2019? Or due to competence?

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will soon appoint his new cabinet

Coquihalla drivers urged to be careful amid freezing rain alert

Special weather statement in effect for highways between Hope, Merritt, Kamloops and Kelowna

Canada among three G20 countries least likely to hit emissions targets

It says Canada, South Korea and Australia are the farthest off

Conservatives’ Scheer wants Trudeau to open Parliament Nov. 25

That’s five days after Justin Trudeau is scheduled to swear in a new cabinet

14 SeaBus cancellations, free rides for veterans from TransLink on Remembrance Day

Free rides also available for current Armed Forces members, first responders

Last remaining Centurion tank from the Korean War makes its journey ‘home’ to B.C.

Tank arrives in B.C. the day before Remembrance Day after a more than 4,500-kilometre transfer

‘Your vehicle burns a lot of fuel:’ Victoria drivers wake up to angry notes

‘This handbill was left on your vehicle because your vehicle burns a lot of fuel,’ notes read

Most Read