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

Just Posted

A for sale sign is shown in by new homes in Beckwith, Ont., just outside Ottawa, on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Thompson-Okanagan population grew despite COVID-19: report

The Chartered Professional Accountants of BC said there are 8,462 new residents in the region

File photo
Princeton mayor ready to support referendum if proposal for $7 million loan gets defeated

A proposal to borrow $7 million to fix town infrastructure may well… Continue reading

Directors and alternate directors at the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen received nearly $560,000 in remuneration and expenses in 2020, according to the Statement of Financial Information. (Black Press file photo)
Almost $560,000 in remuneration for Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen board

Costs of directors and alternate directors outlined in Statement of Financial Information

(File photo)
$8M in wages for Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen staff

34 employees paid more than $75,000 in 2020

Glen Lennon now resides in a neat and fully serviced unit in the Silver Crest Retirement Home, managed by Princeton and District Community Social Services. Photo Andrea DeMeer
Princeton RCMP and social workers find new home for elderly accident victim

“I love the sun and the sun shines on my patio here. I can go out and walk around.”

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Facebook)
New trial date set for Penticton beach attacker’s triple assault charges

May trial was delayed after Crown witnesses failed to show up

Orange ribbons are tied to the fence outside Vernon’s Gateway Homeless Shelter on 33rd Street. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
POLL: Low-key Canada Day in the works for Vernon

Councillor calling for Indigenous recognition for 2022

A conceptual design of Vernon’s new Active Living Centre, which will go to referendum Oct. 15, 2022. (Rendering)
Active living centre 2022 referendum planned in Vernon

City hoping to get Coldstream and Areas B and C back on board

Closure of the 2900 block of 30th Avenue will allow restaurants and other businesses to extend their patios onto the street. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Green light given to downtown Vernon road closure

Single block of 30th Avenue to close over summer months to boost business

Graduating Grade 12 student Savannah Lamb has been awarded an approximate $40,000 scholarship from the Beedie Luminaries foundation. (Contributed)
Dedicated Salmon Arm student earns scholarship to pursue post-secondary education

Savannah Lamb is graduating from Salmon Arm Secondary with a $40,000 scholarship

A provided photo of the suspect. (Kelowna RCMP/Contributed)
Kelowna RCMP investigating after business robbed

An undisclosed amount of money and merchandise were taken from the business

Travel Penticton went to city council for support in increasing the tax on short-term stays to fund a convention bureau and affordable housing. (File photo)
Travel Penticton seeks to grow through increased hotel tax

The increased funds would go to creating a convention bureau and to affordable housing

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

Most Read