Fraser Valley – Chief coroner Lisa Lapointe has issued a statement following the move by Provincial Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendall to declare a public health emergency over the issue of illicit drug overdoses.

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“I am encouraged by the provincial health officer’s additional focus on addressing the increasing numbers of overdoses we are seeing throughout the province, both fatal and non-fatal. Fatality data gathered by coroners’ investigations throughout B.C. is being routinely shared with our public safety partners to support death and injury prevention measures. We will continue to provide the BC Coroners Service information, including results of toxicology testing in suspected overdose deaths, in a timely manner.

“We will also continue to work with our law enforcement, health, child welfare, First Nations Health Authority, and education partners to look for ways to reduce the numbers of people dying from illicit drug use. Valuable collaboration and information exchange continues through the Drug Overdose Alert Partnership to which the BC Coroners Service is a regular contributor.

“Earlier this year we released the results of a BC Coroners Service Child Death Review Panel on drug overdose deaths among youths and young adults. The recommendations from that multi-disciplinary panel focussed on the need to ensure that medical help was obtained immediately for persons who were overdosing. That report may be found at: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/public-safety-and-emergency-services/death-investigation/child-death-review-unit/reports-publications/overdose-death-youth-young-adult.pdf

“In follow-up from that report, we have also been pleased to work with the office of Liberal MP Ron McKinnon (Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam) in supporting his private member’s bill in Parliament, the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act, which would try to reduce the barriers for those seeking immediate help for someone who was suffering an overdose. The bill can be found here: http://www.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?Language=E&Mode=1&DocId=8113043

“As always, and most importantly, the BC Coroners Service urges those using illicit drugs to make sure help is immediately available whether through an urgent call to 911 or the administration of Naloxone by someone trained to do so. Death can happen in seconds and it’s critical that life-saving help is nearby.”

To see the latest BC Coroners Service illicit drug overdose fatality data covering the period until March 31, 2016, please visit: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/public-safety/death-investigation/statistical-reports

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