Penticton paramedics took about 70 per cent more calls for drug overdoses in 2020 compared to 2019, Interior Health representatives told Penticton council Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020. (Jesse Day - Western News)

Penticton paramedics took about 70 per cent more calls for drug overdoses in 2020 compared to 2019, Interior Health representatives told Penticton council Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020. (Jesse Day - Western News)

Penticton overdose calls see drastic increase in 2020

Overdose deaths, however, are down in the city

Penticton paramedics have responded to significantly more drug overdose calls in 2020 compared to 2019, city council heard Tuesday in a presentation by Interior Health representatives.

READ MORE: Drug overdoses lead to 5 deaths each day in October; B.C. drug toxicity continues to increase

So far, this year has seen an increase of “about 70 per cent” in the number of 911 overdose calls made in Penticton compared to 2019, Interior Health medical health officer Sue Pollock told Penticton council.

Despite this, overdose deaths in Penticton have decreased in 2020. In 2019 there were a total of 22 overdose deaths in Penticton recorded by the B.C. Coroners Service. In 2020 there were nine from Jan. 1 to Oct. 31.

“It’s great that those lives are not being lost due to overdose but I think it still speaks to the severity of the drug supply that’s out there and the potential harm that people who use substances are facing,” said Pollock.

Fentanyl — a highly potent synthetic opioid — was detected in every single overdose death recorded in Penticton so far in 2020. Approximately half of the deaths occurred in private homes.

Jill Pascoe, director of mental health and substance use programs in the South Okanagan, told council that health providers in the city have a responsibility to help drug users by accepting that abstinence is not always an immediate option for those that are addicted.

“Many individuals who use substances have significant trauma or issues in their lives that have led to that place,” said Pascoe. “I think as health providers it’s our responsibility to meet them where they’re at … and make sure if they are needing to use substances that they are doing so in the safest way possible and that they are aware of the risks of overdose and we prevent as many as we can.”

Carl Meadows, Interior Health’s executive director of clinical operations for the South Okanagan, told council that misconceptions around who the overdose crisis is actually impacting continue to be prevalent.

“The stigma continues to be misaligned with who is actually being affected,” Meadows said. “These are not what people actually think of as people that would be dying and overdosing on substances… people are horrified to find out it’s their kids in the [emergency] department.”

READ MORE: Paramedics issue ‘triple threat’ warning for holidays



jesse.day@pentictonwesternnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

B.C. overdosesfentanyloverdose crisis

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A sign indicating a COVID-19 testing site is displayed inside a parking garage in West Nyack, N.Y., Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. The site was only open to students and staff of Rockland County schools in an effort to test enough people to keep the schools open for in-person learning. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
4 more deaths, 54 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

This brings the total to 66 deaths in the region

A CP grain car has derailed near Field, causing a power outage. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Train derailment knocks out power in Field

Power is not expected to be restored until tomorrow

(Pixabay)
‘Roadmap out of COVID-19’: Innovate BC’s program helping businesses recover

CEO Raghwa Gopal said the tech sector is here to help brick and mortar businesses

Castlegar Sculpturewalk 2020 – 10 Year Anniversary Sand Sculpture. (Submitted/CBT)
CBT arts and culture grant program now accepting applications

Apply through the Kootenay Columbia Cultural Alliance

Toronto Public Health nurse Lalaine Agarin makes preparations at Toronto’s mass vaccination clinic, Jan. 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
3 deaths, 234 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health over the weekend

One death connected to outbreak at Kamloops’ Royal Inland Hospital, where 20 patients and 28 staff have tested positive

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
Canadian, American rescue crews searching for missing aircraft in waters near Victoria

The search is centered around the waters northeast of Port Angeles

Kevin Lee Barrett pleaded guilty to the aggravated assault of his mother Eleanor Holmes on Tuesday, Jan. 26. (File)
West Kelowna man who beat his mom could be sentenced up to 9 years

Kevin Barrett entered a surprise guilty plea to the lesser charge of aggravated assault on Tuesday morning

Interior Health reported two more COVID-19 deaths at Sunnybank Retirement Center in Oliver Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021. (File photo)
COVID-19 claims lives of two more South Okanagan care home residents

Five residents of the Oliver care home have died since the outbreak was first declared

Vernon now has an approved 13 cannabis shops in town. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Vernon, the ‘Pot capital of B.C.’ greenlights two new stores downtown

Two more shops, within 240 metres, approved, despite neighbouring businesses opposition

11 more cases of COVID-19 have been linked to a cluster on Big White Mountain. Pictured above is TELUS park at Big White Ski Resort, Jan. 26. (Big White Ski Resort)
11 more cases of COVID-19 linked to Big White cluster

This brings the total case count to 225, according to health authorities in a Tuesday update

Jonathon Muzychka and Dean Reber are wanted on Canada-wide warrants. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Convicted killer, robber at large after failing to return to facility: Victoria police

Dean Reber, 60, and Jonathon Muzychka, 43, may be together

Oliver Elementary School
Former Oliver PAC treasurer charged with fraud returns to court

Belinda Yorke will be in court to fix a date for trial in February

Two fibreglass bees were stolen from Vernon’s Planet Bee Honey Farm Nov. 22, 2020. (Facebook)
Stolen bee returned to Vernon honey farm

Two months after thieves buzzed off with two bee sculptures, public tips led police one of them

Most Read