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Rise in heat-related deaths and calls in B.C. strains emergency services

Click to play video: 'Uptick in heat-related deaths strains Metro Vancouver emergency services' Uptick in heat-related deaths strains Metro Vancouver emergency services
RCMP in Metro Vancouver are reporting an uptick in heat-related sudden deaths and that's amplifying some major cracks in B.C.’s ambulance system. Andrea Macpherson reports. – Jun 29, 2021

The current heat wave sweeping B.C. is putting a major strain on the emergencies services in the province.

In Burnaby alone, more than 25 people have died in the last 24 hours, with many of the deaths believed to be heat-related.

Click to play video: 'Possible heat-related deaths soar during B.C. heat wave' Possible heat-related deaths soar during B.C. heat wave
Possible heat-related deaths soar during B.C. heat wave – Jun 29, 2021

Residents are reporting being placed on hold when calling 911 and waiting hours for an ambulance to show up.

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On Saturday, B.C. set a new record for the most number of ambulance dispatches ever at 1,850.

In Vancouver, the fire department is even assisting paramedics with callouts.

“We had every rig, or every one of our apparatus out last night, around midnight, running around the city assisting medical calls, dealing with heat exposures and cardiac arrests,” Vancouver Fire Rescue Services Chief Karen Fry told Global News.

Click to play video: 'B.C. senior waited almost three hours for ambulance after son called 911 for help' B.C. senior waited almost three hours for ambulance after son called 911 for help
B.C. senior waited almost three hours for ambulance after son called 911 for help – Jun 26, 2021

The Firefighters Association of B.C. says many departments are experiencing the same level of volume and need for help with some running low on oxygen supplies due to the extra strain in resources.

Read more: Dispatch system snags add to growing concern over B.C. ambulance delays

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E-Comm 911 operators say they’ve never seen this level of call volumes before, and the organization put out a video saying they had more than 8,000 calls on June 26 and more than 7,300 calls on June 27. That is more than 55 per cent above historical June numbers.

“Between the heatwave, the province-wide restart, and a 911 operator staffing shortage there simply aren’t enough of us to get there as quickly as you deserve,” Donald Grant, chairperson for CUPE Local 8911 says in the video.

E-Comm is asking anyone who calls 911 to stay on the line, no matter what, and to know the location of the emergency.

Read more: Western Canada’s extreme heat wave: Some experts have ‘never seen’ anything like it

The Ministry of Health says it will be posting more than 400 positions in July to be filled within B.C.’s Emergency Health Services.

Cooler temperatures are expected over most of B.C. Wednesday and into the rest of the week as the “heat dome” finally bursts.

Click to play video: 'How a heat dome is causing record breaking temperatures in Western Canada' How a heat dome is causing record breaking temperatures in Western Canada
How a heat dome is causing record breaking temperatures in Western Canada – Jun 29, 2021

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