Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services has responded to more than 6,000 overdose calls so far this year, which is up by 28 per cent compared to all of 2016.
Firefighters say it’s putting a strain on resources and front-line workers.
“While I commend and want to thank our heroic first responders, city staff and community service workers for their extraordinary efforts to save lives, the impact is taking a significant toll on them,” said Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson in a release.
“We will continue to push hard for significant investments and a coordinated national response by all orders of government – including other municipalities, federal and provincial governments and First Nations – to end this tragic epidemic.”
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From Nov. 27 to Dec. 3 alone, Vancouver firefighters responded to 81 overdose calls.
During that same period, Vancouver police reported five suspected overdose deaths, four of which took place on the Downtown Eastside.
The city says it’s encouraged by the province’s announcement last week about the creation of a new overdose emergency response centre, which will be based at Vancouver General Hospital.
In total, 1,103 people have died from drug use so far this year. This is compared to 607 deaths by this time in 2016.
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According to the B.C. government, fentanyl continues to play a big role, with 83 per cent of suspected drug deaths involving the substance.
Latest stats show the majority of deaths occurred indoors, about 90 per cent in total, and more than half in private residences.
~With files from Terry Schintz and Amy Judd