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Overdose calls dropped 22% in Fort St. John last year

City has averaged 92 calls a year since 2016 
BC Ambulance
A BC Ambulance crew passes in front of a hospital emergency department

B.C. recorded more overdose calls in 2021 than ever before, though Fort St. John appeared to buck that trend, according to data from BC Emergency Health Services.

Last year, paramedics responded to 35,525 overdoses in the province – an increase of 31% over the previous year, or close to 100 calls a day.

In Fort St. John, paramedics responded to 97 overdose calls in 2021, a 22% decrease from 125 calls made in 2020. The city has averaged 92 calls a year since 2016.

Overdose Response in Fort St. John, 2016-2021

  • 2016 - 86

  • 2017 - 78

  • 2018 - 89

  • 2019 - 77

  • 2020 - 125

  • 2021 - 97

Every health region as a whole saw an increase in overdose calls during 2021. 

Northern Health, which saw a dramatic increase in overdose calls in 2020, had the smallest increase in 2021. Northern Health showed a 16% increase, about half the provincial average.

  • Northern Health: 2,414 (+16%)

  • Vancouver Coastal: 11,204 (+24%)

  • Fraser Health: 10,573 (+45%)

  • Island Health: 5,917 (+32%)

  • Interior Health: 5,417 (+29%)

The Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Valley regions continue to have the highest number of overdose calls as they include about 50 per cent of the province’s population. Vancouver, Surrey and Victoria remain the top communities for overdose calls.

  • Vancouver: 9,993 (+23%)

  • Surrey: 3,674 (+49%)

  • Victoria: 1,952 (+24%)

Almost every community in B.C. had more overdose patients in 2021 than the previous year – but some bucked the trend.

  • Fort St. John: 22% decrease, total overdoses 2021: 97

  • Courtenay: 127% increase; total overdoses 2021: 467

  • Cranbrook: 84% increase; total overdoses 2021: 191

  • Mission: 82% increase; total overdoses 2021: 397

  • Quesnel: 25% decrease, total overdoses 2021: 157

According to the most recent numbers from the BC Coroners Service, there had been 23 overdose deaths in Northeast B.C. between January and October 2021.

In Dawson Creek, paramedics responded to 69 calls in 2021, up from 53 calls in 2020. In Fort Nelson, paramedics responded to 20 calls, the same as in 2020.

Read the BC Emergency Health Services report:

Overdose Response in B.C. Communities, 2016 - 2021 by AlaskaHighwayNews on Scribd

— with files from Darren Handschuh/Castanet


Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at editor@ahnfsj.ca