Police say fentanyl has made its way into nearly every drug on the street, as a suspected bad batch of drugs led to a second day of overdoses at Vancouver’s supervised injection site.
Vancouver Coastal Health says there were 12 more overdoses at Insite yesterday, on top of the 14 reported Tuesday.
That puts the two day total at 26. Typically the facility sees one or two a day, and up to seven on welfare day.
It adds there has also been a “significant increase” in ODs at the city’s emergency rooms in the same period, but was unable to provide a number.
No deaths have been reported.
Sgt. Randy Fincham with the Vancouver Police says fentanyl is the likely suspect, working its way into nearly every drug on the street.
“Virtually all drugs that we’re currently testing that have been seized from overdoses or at the street level contain fentanyl. Except for marijuana.”
He says the question is how much, an uncertainty he says is leading to trouble on the streets.
“So if you are a recreational or habitual drug user you are playing a game of Russian roulette when you’re taking street drugs that the quantity of fentanyl that might be found in those drugs is going to vary from drug to drug, supplier to supplier.”
Vancouver Coastal Health said yesterday that the recent overdoses have been linked to several different street drugs, as opposed to the situation in Surrey last month where a batch of bad crack cocaine was to blame.
It said the OD’s were being linked to an “unknown substance,” and there has yet to be confirmation on whether it is, in fact, fentanyl.
Meanwhile, with social assistance cheques hitting the street yesterday, Insite is continuing with a pilot project keeping its supervised injection facility open around the clock Wednesday-Friday.
First responders re-deployed
The Provincial Health Services Authority is also looking to re-deploy first-responders so they can better answer calls for the growing number of drug overdoses in our region.
PHSA executive vice-president Linda Lupini says the volume of calls for overdoses is putting a severe strain on the health care system.
“It’s a very difficult and serious situation for everybody this is very taxing on us as first responders on fire, police as first responders, the number of deaths that continue I don’t think there’s any doubt that we will see more overdose deaths this year than we saw last year.”
Lupini says there’s plan under consideration to try and station first responders closer to where most of the oversdoses are taking place.
With files from Janet Brown