Last week, the Government of Alberta updated the data on the Alberta substance use surveillance system, which it uses to communicate information about substance use in the province.
The new data includes EMS responses to opioid-related events up to the end of June 2022. Hospitalization and SCS usage data haven’t been updated beyond March, and deaths haven’t been updated since April.
My last story on EMS in Lethbridge had EMS data up to March. Since then, Lethbridge EMS responded to an additional 45 opioid-related events, making the second quarter of 2022 the lowest second quarter of the last 5 years.
Here’s how each second quarter fared during the same period.
Here it is in graph form:
Last quarter’s numbers were down significantly from the previous second quarter. In fact, this marks two consecutive years in a row where the second quarter EMS response numbers has dropped, hitting a new record low.
As well, during the 12 months since the SCS closed down in August 2020, Lethbridge saw 358 opioid-related events that EMS have responded to. This is the highest number of such events during the same period over the last 3 years.
|Sep 2018–Aug 2019||236|
|Sep 2019–Aug 2020||269|
|Sep 2020–Aug 2021||358|
In the 12 months since the SCS was closed due to the UCP government cancelling funding, Lethbridge EMS responded to an average of 29.8 drug responses a month, up from 22.3 during the same 12-month period the previous year. They also increased from 5.1 reponses per week, on average, to 6.9 per week.
While we’re 10 months into the second year since the SCS was shut down, we’ve already seen 240 EMS responses to drug events, which is more than we saw the first year.
That being said, our monthly average over the last 10 months has been 20 drug events that EMS have responded to. If that average continues, Lethbridge could see 280 events that EMS will have responded to.
While that’ll be less than the 358 we saw between September 2020 and August 2021, it will be the second highest number seen during the same period over the last 4 years.
That being said, Lethbridge has been seeing a declining trend since March. While both January and February of this year were the highest on record, March was the 3rd highest, April was tied for the lowest April on record, May and June were each the second lowest on record.
One thing to keep in mind, however, is that just because EMS are responding to fewer drug events doesn’t necessarily mean there are fewer drug events.
For example, if more people are carrying naloxone on them or more groups outfitted with naloxone (such as SAGE Clan) are patrolling public areas where people are using drugs, they may attend to overdoses and see such success that EMS is never called.