(Black Press file photo)

(Black Press file photo)

Island Health issues drug overdose advisory for Port Alberni

On-the-ground health-care teams notice increase in overdose calls

Island Health has issued a drug poisoning and overdose advisory for Port Alberni.

An increase in visits to the emergency department, calls to 911 and anecdotal evidence from on-the-ground health-care teams prompted Island Health to issue the advisory, a spokesperson said.

“Friends, family and community members using opioids and stimulants face increased risk from both injection and inhalation,” the advisory states.

During the 10-day period from April 3–12, B.C. Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) crews responded to 16 overdose calls in Port Alberni, an EHS spokesperson told the AV News. “Over the preceding 10-day period from March 24–April 2 BCEHS responded to seven overdose calls,” the spokesperson added.

“Paramedics will tell you there is no typical overdose patient. This crisis is affecting people from all walks of life, throughout the province.”

Paramedics are saying overdose calls are becoming increasingly complex: they are administering more Naloxone than ever before, they are responding to overdose patients in cardiac arrest and they are dealing with more complications that arise from overdose.

The overdose advisory from Island Health includes several tips on safer drug use, including visiting the local overdose prevention site (Third Avenue and Bute Street, open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.), carrying Naloxone, staggering use with a friend, or downloading and using the Lifeguard app from lifeguarddh.com.

More information on services available to help prevent overdoses and safer use can be found online at islandhealth.ca/overdose.

While other regions of Vancouver Island have had several drug toxicity advisories issued over the past few weeks, the Alberni Valley hasn’t seen one in a few months, said Ron Merk, co-chair of the Community Action Team Port Alberni. “It spikes,” he said, because the illicit drug trade cuts drugs will all sorts of different substances—some of them toxic.

“From a generic perspective in the province, benzoids have been showing up significantly,” he said. Merk did not have information on the makeup of illicit drugs showing up in Port Alberni. Benzodiazepines are sedatives such as Valium or Xanax usually prescribed to treat anxiety.

“This (advisory) is concerning, from my perspective,” Merk said. “As long as we’re not addressing the poisoned drug supply with some sort of safe supply we’re going to get these advisories.”


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Alberni ValleyIsland Healthopioid addictionPort AlberniVancouver Island Health Authority