April 26 marked a record number of drug overdoses in British Columbia, with 130 calls across the province.
And that number doesn’t just come as a shock to the public – officials from the BC Ambulance Service are also at a loss.
Director of Patient Care Delivery Joe Acker says Wednesday’s overdoses beat the previous record of 121 in November 2016, a surprising prospect considering they thought the numbers were actually on a downward trend.
“We didn’t expect that we’d see another spike. We thought that we were actually winning and we were actually doing some good that was reducing these numbers. So I can’t explain, experts that I speak with can’t explain why we saw such a huge spike this week.”
The overdose numbers coincided with the day social assistance cheques are distributed, a day some refer to as “Welfare Wednesday.”
Despite that, Acker says the rise in numbers caught them off-guard and put their efforts into perspective.
“I think the answer is, we don’t know… It really does seem to be that it’s just such a huge problem, it’s going to take some time to resolve.”
He says while front-line responders understand very well about how bad the crisis is, for the public there is still a stigma around drug use.
“The media attention around this, particularly in this province, has maybe fatigued people. The empathy of society is a little fatigued by the huge numbers.”
Of the calls, 52 were in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 38 in Fraser Health, and the rest in the Interior and on Vancouver Island.