Fraser Health issues ‘urgent warning’ after 12 overdoses in Surrey

By Natalia Cuevas-Huaico / March 5, 2019

Fraser Health issued an urgent warning after a dramatic increase of overdoses in Surrey this past weekend.

First responders reported a total of 12 overdoses within 24 hours on Sunday, March 3rd.

A press release suggests the reported overdoses were connected to fentanyl contamination in cocaine.

In 2018, a Fraser Health report noted the overdose toll at a staggering 210 deaths, the year before in 2017 that number was at 178 deaths.

Take a look at the line graph below to see a detailed breakdown of Surrey’s overdose numbers over the years.

Most street drug substances in the lower mainland are contaminated with fentanyl. (Pixabay)

Staff at Surrey’s Safe Point drug checking and injection site say they deal with more than a few overdoses weekly.

Harm Reduction Worker at Safe Point, Demirra Low Kontou, states they test users substances daily, drugs like cocaine, meth, heroin, crack etc, and most of them come in with at least a 10 percent fentanyl contamination.

She explains that a majority of street drugs are cut with fentanyl and users who experience fentanyl overdoses have a lower tolerance to the opioid.

“There are individuals who will be using substances that are one hundred percent fentanyl and they will be fine,”she says.

Kontou adds that she’s seen a startling increase of overdoses in the North Surrey sector and it is likely due to numerous bad batches circulating the area.

Vancouver Coastal Health sent out a tweet earlier this week outlining the major symptoms to spot an overdose and what to do. Anyone who witnesses an overdose is encouraged to call 9-1-1 immediately.

In the case that someone is trained to administer naloxone, make sure to open up the individuals airway, perform the administration of the medication, and stay present until first responders arrive on scene.

  • Fraser Health issued the following precautions:

    • Do not use alone
    • If you do use alone, plan for someone to check up on you
    • Stagger use with peers – use at different times so one friend is sober
    • Test substance, use slowly, and use in small doses
    • Do not use with alcohol or mix with other drugs