THREE simultaneous crisis are putting extreme strain on the City of Vancouver’s emergency resources. Alone, the pandemic, toxic drug health emergency, and extreme heat each tax City services, but together they are pushing resources to the breaking point, Vancouver Fire Rescue Service said on Tuesday.
The VFRS said it is managing an over threefold increase in call volume compared to periods earlier in 2021 and historical data from late June. In order to maintain service levels while attending 365 incidents on Monday alone, the VFRS brought in four extra crews, and is redeploying staff to serve in critical response roles where possible. In addition to increases in cardiac emergencies, heat emergencies, and overdoses across the City, the VFRS is responding to more fire-related incidents, including a large wildfire involving BC Wildfire Service on Tuesday morning.
Extreme wait times for BC Ambulance Service are compounding the problem, leaving VFRS crews on the patients’ side for between one and 11 hours.
“We are asking communities to monitor those around them for any signs of heat stress, particularly those most vulnerable such as the elderly, children, and those with existing health conditions. Early intervention by moving the person to shade, cooling with damp cloths, hydrating with water, and loosening excessive clothing can prevent early heat-related issues from progressing to life threatening conditions such as heat stroke or cardiac events,” said VFRS Captain Jonathan Gormick in a statement.
“We appreciate everyone’s patience as we navigate this crisis and attempt to provide the most urgent care to those in the most need as quickly as possible.”