Interior Health has re-issued a drug alert warning of continued overdose activity in Williams Lake and area, following up to an alert issued on July 10. (File photo)) Two samples of crystal meth testing positive for fentanyl in Penticton has prompted an overdose alert by Interior Health. (File photo)

Increased overdoses in Williams Lake prompt second warning from health authority

Paramedics responded to 11 overdose calls so far in July, 10 in June, five in May

Interior Health Authority has issued another drug alert due to ongoing overdose activity in the Williams Lake area.

A similar drug alert was issued on July 10.

Read more: Interior Health issues warning of increased overdose activity in Williams Lake area

BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) told the Tribune Wednesday that paramedics in the Williams Lake area responded to 11 overdoses in July to date, 10 in June and five in May.

“Williams Lake averages about six to seven overdose calls a month so June and July overdose numbers are higher than average,” said Shannon Miller, communications officer (BCEHS).

So far BCEHS in Williams Lake has responded to 57 overdose calls in 2020, compared to 78 in all of 2019, 72 in 2018 and 52 in 2017.

In the broader Cariboo-Chilcotin region this year, there were 15 overdose calls in July to date, 10 in June and five in May. Those number include the numbers in Williams Lake.

“This health region is showing high overdose call numbers,” Miller said. “For July of last year, there were only six overdose calls recorded in the Cariboo-Chilcotin.”

BCEHS paramedics and dispatchers have saved the lives of many overdose patients throughout B.C., she added.

Currently they respond to more than 2,300 overdose calls every month for an average of 79 overdose calls a day in B.C.

In 2019 they responded to 24,000 overdose calls.

Read more: B.C. paramedics respond to largest number of overdoses in a single day

Miller said paramedics are administering more naloxone than ever before due to the potency and types of drugs people are using.

“This means it takes more time to stabilize a patient at a scene before transporting them to hospital.”

The BC Coroner’s office reports the vast majority of overdose deaths happen when people use alone because there is no one to call 9-1-1.

“This is why we stress the importance of not using alone, and to call 9-1-1 if you see someone who may be experiencing an overdose,” Miller added, noting when BCEHS paramedics respond to a potential overdose patient, the patient has a more than 95 per cent chance of survival.

Fentanyl testing strips for home use are now available through the Boys and Girls Club of Williams Lake and Area harm reduction services and Three Corners Health Society.

The IH alert is in effect until Aug. 5, 2020.

So far this year, medical emergency calls in the Williams Lake area have totalled 1,211, compared to 2,159 for all of 2019 and 1,982 for all of 2018.



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