Spike in overdose calls prompts public warning

Lethbridge Fire and Emergency Services and the Lethbridge Police Service are warning the public after a significant spike in overdose calls.

Police believe a particularly potent batch of drugs – likely carfentanil – is currently available on the street and anyone using the drug needs to be aware and take precautions.

Since February 19, 2018 EMS have responded to a total of 42 overdose calls – 16 of those on Friday alone. In some of the cases, what was initially reported as one overdose evolved to multiple people on scene requiring treatment. Given the potency of the drugs, paramedics had to administer higher dosages of Naloxone in many of the cases.

“This is very concerning for our community,” says Deputy Chief Dana Terry, Lethbridge Fire and Emergency Services. “The number of calls we received this weekend was a significant jump from what we usually respond to. This signals to us that something different is going on and we need everyone to be aware and be prepared.”

Fire/EMS and Police are urging anyone who uses street drugs to be extra cautious.

“There is no quality control when it comes to illicit drugs,” said Insp. Jason Dobirstein. “No matter what you’re told you’re buying, you have no idea what you’re actually getting.”

If you are going to use drugs, never use alone; always have at least one other person present. Have a naloxone kit available and someone who can administer it and in the event of a suspected overdose call 911 immediately. Naloxone kits are available at pharmacies, community clinics and emergency departments – visit www.drugsafe.ca for a full list of locations.

The Supervised Consumption Site, where drug users can be monitored while they ingest, inject, snort or inhale their drug of choice, is scheduled to open later this week and first responders are encouraging drug users to rely on the services that will be available to ensure their safety.

Police efforts are ongoing to combat drug trafficking activity in the city and officers will continue to specifically target the suppliers and dealers.

MEDIA AVAILABILITY: Deputy Chief Dana Terry, Lethbridge Fire and Emergency Services, Insp. Jason Dobirstein, Lethbridge Police Service, and Dr. Vivien Suttorp, Medical Officer of Health – South Zone, Alberta Health Services, will be available for media interviews today at 1 p.m. at the No. 1 Fire Station, 207 - 4 Avenue South. This will be the only opportunity for on-camera interviews.