Health

Kamloops Fire and Rescue see spike in medical, overdose calls year-over-year | Radio NL

Kamloops Fire and Rescue see spike in medical, overdose calls year-over-year | Radio NL

Photo via Kamloops Fire and Rescue

Kamloops Fire and Rescue is calling on the government to help respond to the rising number of opioid poisonings in Kamloops.

It comes after KFR crews delivered 19 naloxone kits in Kamloops in the first quarter of this year, compared to eight in the same period in 2021. While fire reports remained the same year over year, KFR crews responded to 1,400 medical-related calls. during the first quarter of 2022, compared to 840 for the same period last year.

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KFR fire chief Ken Uzeloc says the 68 percent increase in the number of medical calls to which firefighters respond is due to several factors.

“Some of that is still a result of COVID coming out. So during COVID, BC Emergency Health Services limited the number of calls from fire departments to limit exposure and protect the balance of resources,” he said. “However, the number of medical reactions has been increasing in recent years and we are starting to see them increasing.”

Uzeloc suggests it’s a combination of what’s going on in the community, demand and a rising population, as the population of Kamloops town is estimated to be over 105,000.

“You have potentially aging populations where there are more concerns or issues that require home care. So all of that means higher volumes for BC Emergency Health Services, higher volumes for first responders like KFR making these calls to support the ambulance service.”

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Meanwhile, KFR crews saw a 138 percent increase in administered naloxone injections year over year.

Uzeloc says that a large proportion of people who overdose in the community are routine users.

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“Crews go to the same locations, the same people, or they see the same person and have to deliver naloxone to the same person multiple times, which is very taxing,” he says.

Uzelok says that while opioid poisoning is a major health problem across Canada, the increase in overdose calls is taking away the resources needed for firefighting.

He explains that more government cooperation is needed to create a task force to help with the rising number of opioid poisonings.

“The reactive part that we are involved in is not going to solve the problem. There has to be a combination of preparatory work, there has to be some support following these types of events and there has to be some availability for those to get the support, whether it be treatment, mental health, etc. of these. However, there must also be a willingness on the part of the individual.”

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