News / Calgary

Fentanyl calls still on the rise: Calgary Fire Chief

Chief Steve Dongworth said he expects call numbers to keep going up

Narcan is a brand of nasal naloxone spray that can reverse the effects of an overdose.

Elizabeth Cameron / Calgary Freelance

Narcan is a brand of nasal naloxone spray that can reverse the effects of an overdose.

Calgary's fire chief isn't seeing the fentanyl crisis slow.

So far in 2018, firefighters are using the naloxone nasal spray, a life-saving fentanyl antidote, more than the same period last year. January's numbers are up 52 per cent from the same month in 2017.

With 133 separate fentanyl overdose calls to the CFD, January 2018 is now the highest month recorded since the beginning of the opioid crisis. Naloxone was administered 29 times in January 2018. That's 10 more than in January 2017.

Nearly every day in 2017 Calgary's firefighters have administered the life-saving nasal spray – a total of 318 times. And overdose calls were also trending up with 1100 fentanyl calls in 2017, two-and-a-half times the 2016 figure.

"We may well just be at the beginning of what we're likely to see," said Calgary Fire Chief Steve Dongworth. "This is cropping up more and more accross North America."

Dongworth did say it's only one month of data, and he's hesitant to speculate because use could be down in February. But he said any intelligence the Calgary Fire Department gets about the use of fentanyl suggests it's going to increase significantly.

According to the province's most recent data for 2017 to Nov. 11, there have been 462 accidental drug overdose deaths related to fentanyl. Of those deaths, 215 happened in the Calgary area.

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