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

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.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

LightStrike Germ-Zapping Robot designed by Xenex Disinfection Services. (Contributed photo)
Germ-killing robot on the job at White Rock’s Peace Arch Hospital

Goal to match $100,000 donation met, say PAHF officials

A home on the corner of at the corner of 63B Avenue and 165A Street boasts a display of thousands of lights that bring in people throughout the city to check it out. The family also collects donations for BC Children's Hospital. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
MAP: Christmas light displays in Surrey and beyond

Send us pictures of your National Lampoon-style lit-up homes, nativity scenes or North Pole playlands

The final two weeks of the White Rock-South Surrey Titans’ football season has been cancelled, the association announced last week. (Contributed photo)
Titans ‘grateful’ despite earlier cancellation of minor football season

White Rock-South Surrey organization announce that final two weeks of the season won’t go ahead

Lisa Batstone’s appeal of her conviction and sentence for the killing of her eight-year-old daughter is set for Jan. 12, 2021. (File photos)
South Surrey mother’s murder-appeal date set

Lisa Batstone is appealing her conviction and sentence in death of eight-year-old daughter

A heavy police presence was on scene on Dec. 28, 2017 following the shooting death on Bates Road in Abbotsford of Alexander Blanarou, 24, of Surrey. (Abbotsford News file photo)
Three men charged with Abbotsford shooting death of Surrey man

Alexander Blanarou, 24, was killed in a rural area on Dec. 28, 2017

A tongue-in-cheek message about wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 on a sign outside a church near Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection count climbs back up to 656

20 more people in hospital, active cases still rising

(Needpix.com)
Fraudsters projected to use pet scams to gouge over $3M from customers: BBB

The pandemic heavily contributed to the number of puppy scams

The westbound lanes of Highway 1 between Clearbrook and McCallum roads were closed to traffic Wednesday morning after a fatal collision involving a pedestrian.
Pedestrian dies after being struck by vehicle on Highway 1 in Abbotsford

Collision takes place early Wednesday morning between Clearbrook and McCallum roads

A teacher places the finishing touches on the welcome sign at Hunter’s Glen Junior Public School which is part of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Sept. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Hindsight 2020: How do you preserve a year many Canadians would rather forget?

Figuring out how to preserve the story of the pandemic poses a series of challenges

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Haley Callison. (Facebook photo)
Former B.C. pro hockey player frustrated with COVID-deniers after horrific bout with virus

Haleigh Callison hopes people will follow precautions and tone down the rhetoric

FILE – A near empty waterfront train platform is pictured in downtown Vancouver, Monday, April 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
TransLink disables some services for second day due to ‘suspicious network activity’

Customers cannot use credit card or debit card at fare gates or Compass card vending machines

A man stands in the window of an upper floor condo in Vancouver on March 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Change made to insurance for B.C. condo owners amid rising premiums

Council CEO Janet Sinclair says the change will mean less price volatility

Google Maps screenshot taken at 7:14 a.m.
Westbound Highway 1 lanes in Abbotsford closed as crews investigate serious crash

Crash occurred between McCallum and Riverside roads at around 4 a.m., next update at 8 a.m.

Most Read