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BC Government increasing overdose emergency response

The Minister of Health and Addictions Judy Darcy, announced that the BC Government is launching a new Overdose Emergency Response Centre located at Vancouver General Hospital in an attempt to combat the overdose crisis.

"Every day, this overdose crisis is devastating families and communities," said Darcy. "We are escalating our response, not just to prevent overdose deaths today, but to get at the very heart of the crisis so that no one has to lose another loved one."

Over the next three years, the province has allotted $322 million to combating the opioid crisis.

The plan is to have a team of experts and full-time staff at emergency response centres bring together provincial, health authority, municipal, Indigenous and law enforcement resources to tackle the overdose issue.

In an attempt to maximize impact, the centre plans on working closely with five new regional response teams in order to co-ordinate and strengthen addiction and overdose prevention programs.

<who> Photo Credit: Google Maps </who> Vancouver General Hospital

The provincial center and regional teams will prioritize four essential interventions, including:

1. Expanding community-based harm reduction services.

2. Increasing the availability of naloxone.

3. Addressing the unsafe drug supply.

4. Proactively identifying and supporting people at risk of drug use.

Dr. Patricia Daly is the chief medical health officer for Vancouver Coastal Health and will serve as the centre's executive director and clinical lead for the Overdose Emergency Response Centre.

"We continue to see the tragic loss of life from overdoses across the province, and we need to intensify the response at all levels to turn this crisis around," said Daly. "This escalated emergency response strategy draws together and co-ordinates many partners - at the community, regional and provincial levels - with a common determination to save lives."

One goal of the provincial emergency centre is to closely track emerging risk factors and trends through centralized data monitoring and analysis. From this information the centre will work with regional teams and new community action teams in hard-hit communities to intervene as quickly as possible with life-saving responses, early-intervention and proactive treatment.

By January 2018, new community action teams will be in place in communities that are identified as having the highest need. This need will be determined through overdose data.

"The commitment and dedication poured into the provincial response over the past 18 months has saved countless lives. But people continue to die in record numbers, and we need to do more," said provincial health officer Dr. Perry Kendall, who declared the overdose crisis a public health emergency in 2016. "To date, most of those involved in the response have worked on it off the side of their desk. This new approach will see dedicated staff working in a co-ordinated way on the ground to get help to people who need it the most."

Visit for more information on the new centre's objectives, go to GovBC.

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