Vancouver firefighters report 174 overdose calls last week

Vancouver firefighters report 174 overdose calls last week

Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services says the number of overdoses calls spiked last week to 174 — the highest number recorded in one week so far this year.

The tally does not include ambulance call-outs, and did not indicate how many of the calls were for fatal overdoses. But in a release the city said that the number is "extremely high" historically speaking.

The city's statement also said during the week of Feb. 26 to March 5 Vancouver police logged 14 suspected overdose deaths — six more than the week before — although toxicology reports are not yet complete and the coroner will need to confirm final numbers.

The city says most of the calls came from the Downtown Eastside but overdose calls across the city had increased.

'At a breaking point'

In a statement, Mayor Gregor Robertson said the ongoing overdose crisis is having a "devastating" impact on the city and front-line workers.

"The city shoulders a huge burden of the drug overdose response, and our first responders and front-line community workers are at a breaking point," he said.

A recent health care deal between B.C. and the federal government provides $10 million to fight the overdose crisis. On Wednesday, the province announced an extra $91.4 million in funding for emergency health services which they say will speed up response times.

First responders and volunteers have spoken out about being pushed to the limit during the crisis.

According to the B.C. Coroner's Service, overdoses killed 922 British Columbians in 2016. In January 2017, overdoses killed 116.