Paramedics responding to more overdose calls in Waterloo Region
Waterloo Region is already on track to beat last year’s record high overdose numbers.
According to the region, in 2020 there were more than 1,100 overdose calls.
So far in 2021, there were more than 1,300.
Local paramedics said they have noticed the increase in overdose calls.
“Last week was 44 overdoses. (We) had some days of 10 and 11 in a day which is high,” said Robert Crossan, deputy chief of Region of Waterloo Paramedic Services.
According to the Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council, about 120 of the calls in the first 10 months of 2021 were suspected overdose deaths.
“When you have an over overdose it cuts off the oxygen to your brain and there are consequences,” said Michael Parkinson with the Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council. “It’s a life and death emergency where seconds really do matter.”
Parkinson said certain groups are often impacted most when it comes to overdose deaths.
“For people on the lower income side of things, they’re dying at four sometimes five times the rate of people in upper income levels,” said Parkinson.
Local paramedics said users should remain extra cautious.
“Don’t use alone, have naloxone, use the CTS, just be safe. There’s a really strong supply out there,” Crossan said.
Starting Dec. 13, 2021, is a new initiative that will see every region of waterloo paramedic vehicle with a naloxone kit on board for public distribution.
The kits are still free at pharmacies and public health.
“Now will be able to take that friend, family member, passerby, and say use your naloxone kit. Here’s a fresh one if you need to use it again, you now have one,” said Crossan.
Experts worried the overdose numbers will continue to climb.
“Nobody can keep up: toxicologists, emergency rooms, etc.” said Parkinson.
WHERE TO FIND FREE NALOXONE KITS
Many pharmacies in Ontario and Waterloo Region carry free naloxone kits. The province has an interactive map where you can find pharmacies that carry naloxone kits.
Many agencies and groups in Waterloo, Kitchener and Cambridge, including Ontario Addiction Treatment Centres, also distribute free naloxone kits.
Some regions, including Waterloo Region, have mobile units that give out free naloxone kits.
Mobile services travel a fixed route on a fixed schedule.
Waterloo Region residents can call or text the Sanguen Health Centre's Community Health Van at 519-591-4826 for schedules, routes or to coordinate home delivery of a naloxone kit.