Reported opioid overdoses are set to reach another peak in 2019, the emergency services committee will hear next week, but there have been some encouraging signs the crisis is at least levelling off.
Between January and September, paramedics in the city responded to 347 calls related to an opioid overdose, compared to 129 during the same period in 2018.
The worst month of 2019 so far has been May, when paramedics responded to 71 suspected overdoses.
But in August and September, the numbers were closer to 2018: there were 30 calls in August, compared to 33 in August 2018, and 26 calls in September, compared to 20 last year.
The number of people dying from overdoses in Sudbury has also levelled off, peaking at nine in the month of June 2018, with no deaths being reported between December 2018 and March 2019, according to the latest data from the Community Drug Strategy Dashboard, which tracks opioid deaths across the province.
Paramedics are also gearing up to launch a new program this month aimed at cutting the number of 911 calls from chronically ill people. If they agree, frequent 911 callers can enroll for home visits from paramedics to find ways for them to live healthier at home, so EMS calls are reduced.
“The premise is to identify the root of the reliance on paramedic services (perhaps an unmet need that limits their independence) and link the individual to support services,” the report says.
“The need for this program in the City of Greater Sudbury has been evaluated, and through monitoring, we have identified that our multiple caller rates are growing faster than other communities.”
Last year, multiple caller rates – people who call 911 regularly – increased by 24 per cent, the report says. In all, 750 people in Sudbury called 911 more than four times last year, with one person dialing the emergency number 38 times in one month.
Combined, the multiple callers made 4,700 calls last year, out of a total of 20,665 total calls to paramedics, who spent 6,600 hours spent responding to the frequent callers.
Read the full report here.