The Mixed Overdose Response Crew follows up with sufferers within the days after they have been revived from an overdose. Since its launch in August 2019, it has linked 151 folks to providers.
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An outreach program by Vancouver firefighters and Vancouver Coastal Well being employees that goals to interrupt the cycle of repeated overdoses has checked in on 193 folks and linked the vast majority of them to remedy and different providers.
The Mixed Overdose Response Crew follows up with sufferers within the days after they’ve been revived from an overdose. Since its launch in August 2019, it has linked 151 folks to providers they want, similar to housing, rehab or remedy, help with paperwork, or assist making appointments.
Sufferers are unfold out throughout town, with 70 from the Downtown Eastside and 81 from elsewhere in Vancouver.
“It may be painstaking work, and in no way solves the issue of the poisonous drug provide, however every particular person we join with is much less more likely to overdose once more … much less more likely to current to emergency division, and fewer more likely to be a grim statistic,” mentioned Vancouver Fireplace and Rescue Capt. Jonathan Gormick, whose appointment as the fireplace division’s lead on the overdose response group was introduced at a Zoom information convention Wednesday.
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The place is funded by town in its 2021 funds.
Final yr, Vancouver Fireplace and Rescue obtained 20,000 calls requiring a medical response. Out of these, 20 per cent, or 4,000, had been for overdoses, mentioned Chief Karen Fry.
Firefighters proceed to see an escalation not simply in overdose calls, she mentioned, but additionally in repeated overdose calls for a similar particular person, and that takes a toll.
“We’re getting ethical harm from seeing the repeat people who’re struggling of their life, and having a number of overdoses and us not with the ability to do something apart from reply and revive them,” she mentioned.
The joint initiative permits firefighters not simply to react to calls, but additionally to be proactive about stopping these calls within the first place, mentioned Fry.
Dr. Patricia Daly, chief medical officer for Vancouver Coastal Well being, mentioned 564 folks died from overdose deaths from January 2020 to February of this yr within the well being area — greater than the 418 deaths from COVID-19, but the opioid overdose disaster isn’t getting as a lot consideration because the pandemic.
Due to the stigma connected to illicit drug use and overdoses, some folks could not search assist and don’t flip to household and mates for assist, mentioned Daly, including the overdose response group is ready to assist determine folks in danger who’re in any other case hard-to-reach and assist join them with much-needed assist and providers.
Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart mentioned overdose deaths are preventable, calling the opioid disaster “one of many largest coverage disasters” in B.C. He mentioned the overdose response group is only one piece of the puzzle.
Stewart additionally advocates for a secure drug provide and the decriminalization of easy possession of illicit medication in Vancouver.