As the number of fentanyl-related deaths across the country continues to rise, Oak Bay Police know they’re not immune to the concerns of street drugs.
“We do get overdoses here and we do get death from drugs but it’s very rare,” said Sgt Rick Anthony, community liaison officer.
According to the BC Coroners Service, B.C. has seen 54 drug overdose deaths in which fentanyl was detected between Jan. 1 and May 31 this year with at least 12 deaths where fentanyl was detected between July 7 and Aug. 7. Almost all were on the Lower Mainland.
“We haven’t see any yet. We’re all aware of it. It’s on our radar and we have lots of directives from different sources on what to look for and watch for,” Anthony said. “It has no boundaries and borders, we know that.”
Fentanyl is a synthetic narcotic usually prescribed to kill pain, but is up to 100 times more toxic than other opiates. When mixed with other drugs, it is a deadly cocktail accounting for a high percentage of overdose fatalities in B.C.
Since making an appearance in Greater Victoria about two years ago, fentanyl has frequently come to the attention of Inspector Scott McGregor, Victoria Police Department’s focused enforcement team.
“It’s a concern for us because of the profit margins being increased so significantly that we could potentially see more of it,” said McGregor, adding police have worked closely with ambulance services responding to drug overdoses, distributing naloxone kits to reverse the effects of fentanyl.
BC Coroners Service reports that over the past three years the percentage of drug overdose deaths in which fentanyl is detected has risen to more than 25 per cent. In more than 80 per cent of those cases, the cause of death was a mixed drug overdose, with fentanyl being just one of the components.
The total illicit drugs deaths in B.C. last year was 355, an increase of 7.5 per cent over 2013. However, close to three-quarters of B.C.’s illicit drug deaths in 2014 showed no fentanyl at all.
– with files from Victoria News