The overdose crisis may be worse than statistics show.
With hundreds of naloxone kits in the hands of the public, local BC Ambulance unit chief Bruce Patterson says for every overdose called into 9-1-1 there are many more that aren’t reported.
He says for every 9-1-1 call that comes in, there are upwards of a dozen overdoses that don’t get reported, which is putting people’s lives at risk.
The drug overdose rate in Port Alberni is believed to be the highest per capita rate on the island, and it’s not showing signs of slowing down.
Paramedics responded to 40 overdose calls in the first 3 months of the year, which is almost double the amount in the first quarter of last year.
Patterson says they sometimes receive multiple overdose calls a day, which could be even worse today with government cheques being issued.
He says heroin laced with fentanyl is in the community, and many overdoses are requiring multiple shots of naloxone to reverse.
Patterson says overdoses are happening within every segment of society, and says the overdose prevention site at 3rd and Bute is also an education center for non-users on signs of drug addiction and how to use naloxone to save a life.
Paramedics are urging people to call 9-1-1 as soon as someone shows signs of an overdose, and not wait for them to fall unconscious before calling, and people should use the drug within a group, since many overdose victims are found alone.
While the Coroner’s Office won’t confirm overdose deaths within a city or town if it’s under 5, sources within the health field say 3 people have died from overdoses in Port Alberni so far this year.