The District of Lake Country saw its number of overdose calls double in 2020 over the previous year. (Black Press file photo)

The District of Lake Country saw its number of overdose calls double in 2020 over the previous year. (Black Press file photo)

Overdose calls doubled in Lake Country in 2020: report

The district’s protective services annual report shows there were 47 overdose calls last year

Overdose calls roughly doubled in Lake Country in 2020, according to the district’s Protective Services annual report.

Paramedics or firefighters responded to 47 overdoses in the community last year, up 96 per cent from 24 calls in 2019. There has now been a total of 153 calls in Lake Country since the overdose crisis was declared in 2016.

Province-wide data suggests the crisis has only gotten worse during the COVID-19 pandemic. B.C. recorded 1,716 overdose deaths last year, according to a BC Coroners report, amounting to a 74 per cent increase over the previous year.

Fahmy Baharuddin, executive director of the Living Positive Resource Centre Okanagan, says drug supply chains have been impeded by cross-border travel restrictions, leading many to use substances that have been produced locally or, as a way of stretching out a thinner supply, have been cut with more potent substances like fentanyl.

“In Canada the supply (disruption) has meant there’s been more cases of fentanyl, there’s been more cases of (substances) being impure and harmful to the people who are using, and that basically translates to us as a service organization seeing more people wanting more information about their drugs,” Baharuddin said.

READ MORE: ‘He just wanted to be accepted’: Okanagan mother opens up about son’s fatal overdose

Headquartered in Kelowna with services throughout the Okanagan, Living Positive works a step back from the frontlines of the overdose epidemic, focusing on education and awareness, harm reduction, naloxone training and drug-checking services.

Baharuddin said people are fortunately taking preemptive steps to find out more about the drugs currently on the streets by getting in touch with his organization.

“We’ve been getting a lot more calls with people saying, ‘I have this drug that I’ve used before, I’m not quite sure what it is, it’s changed over the last year, would we be able to get more information.’”

Education is key when it comes to reducing overdoses, says Baharuddin, and it starts at the individual level with tools like naloxone training.

“As individuals we need to be aware, the same way we encourage people to know basic first aid or basic CPR,” Baharuddin said.

However, he added “a good chunk” of the responsibility is on the government to respond to recent spikes in drug toxicity-related deaths by decriminalizing substances linked to the overdose crisis, so as to improve the government’s ability to regulate those substances.

“That means the government has a bit more say in what goes on,” he said. “You look at alcohol; we know what’s in a can of beer because it’s controlled by the government.”

Locally, the Lake Country Health Planning Society offers harm reduction and other substance-related resources through the Health Hub. Its location at 10080 Main Street offers free naloxone kits, and staff can answer questions on how naloxone should be administered.

Baharuddin also points to drugchecking.ca, an Interior Health resource that helps people know what’s in the substances they use. The website is a collection of drug-checking locations in B.C. (including two in Vernon and four in Kelowna), paired with information regarding what drug-checking services entails.

For more information on the Living Positive Resource Centre, visit lprc.ca.

READ MORE: Man brought back to life by Vernon RCMP


Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
Email me at Brendan.Shykora@vernonmorningstar.com
Follow us: Facebook | Twitter

B.C. overdosesopioid crisis

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

Just Posted

Windsurfers enjoying a windstorm on Skaha Lake in Penticton on March 28, 2021. (Sandy Steck Photography)
Wind warning issued for Okanagan Valley

Boaters are being warned of gusts up to 70 km/h by late afternoon on Sunday

Vernon Vipers forward Ryan Shostak (centre) fends off a check from Salmon Arm defenceman to get a close-in scoring attempt on Silverbacks goalie Owen Say during Vernon’s 3-2 B.C. Hockey League pod play shootout victory Saturday, April 17, at Kal Tire Place. (Lisa Mazurek - Vernon Vipers photography)
Vernon Vipers use shootout to subdue Salmon Arm

Snakes score 3-2 B.C. Hockey League pod play win at Kal Tire Place

Coldstream Fire Department crews stationed at Kal Lake Provincial Park parking lot on Cosens Bay Road on Sunday, April 18, after a car went over a cliff in the area. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)
Driver escapes after car goes over cliff in Coldstream near Kal Lake Park

The driver has been transported to hospital with unspecified injuries

A GoFundMe page has been launched for a Vernon man whose BX orchard property home off Pleasant Valley Road near Stickle Road was totally destroyed in a fire Saturday, April 17. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Fundraising campaign launched for Vernon man who lost home to fire

A GoFundMe page has been started by family; man taken to hospital with injuries from fire

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A Kelowna Pride Festival 2019 participant holds up a flag. (Kelowna Pride Society)
Kelowna Pride, RCMP continue to work on ‘Safe Place Program’

A new committee has been formed to refine the ‘Safe Place Program’ created by the Kelowna RCMP

A strange odour at a West Kelowna apartment building prompted the evacuation of 150 residents on Sunday morning, April 18. (Aaron Hemens - Capital News)
Strange smell at West Kelowna apartment prompts evacuation of 150 residents, pets

150 residents ordered evacuated from a West Kelowna apartment building early Sunday morning

This is what’s left of a truck that caught fire at Pyramid Provincial Park off Highway 97 near Summerland Saturday night. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Photo Gallery: Truck gutted by fire at popular Okanagan park, trees saved

Just a metal shell of what once was a pick up truck is left at the scene

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

Most Read