Overdose crisis taxing for interior paramedics
B.C.’s overdose crisis is proving taxing for interior paramedics.
“Since the fall we have had quite a significant increase in the number of overdoses that we see in Kelowna and in other communities across the interior, not nearly the same volume as they are experiencing in the Lower Mainland, but still pretty consistent,” said Paul Swain with B.C. Emergency Health Services.
“They are doing more responses each day and the calls can be quite challenging.”
B.C. Health Services statistics for overdose calls are lumped in with poisonings but Swain said the uptick in calls is believed to be connected with B.C.’s opioid overdose crisis.
Last month Kelowna paramedics responded to 92 overdose or poisoning calls. A year earlier in March 2016 they responded to 52 such calls.
Swain said the volume of overdoes calls can be physically draining as paramedics are doing more work each day and also emotionally challenging.
“They are trained to deal with those sorts of scenarios but as they respond to the same patients over and over again or if they are responding to someone’s home and people in the home are upset, depending on the outcome or how the patient does, it can be upsetting for the people in the home which can also be upsetting for our staff as well,” said Swain.
Swain said B.C. Emergency Health Services has programs in place to support paramedics including a peer debriefing system.
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