Record number of drug responses for Lethbridge EMS in 2021

This was driven by the third quarter, which saw EMS responding to more opioid-related events than in any other third quarter since 2018. Actually, than any other quarter since 2018.

Earlier this 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 December 2021. Hospitalization and SCS usage data haven’t been updated beyond September 2021, and deaths haven’t been updated since October.

My last story on EMS in Lethbridge had EMS data up to Sep. Since then, Lethbridge EMS responded to 97 opioid-related events during the months of October, November, and December.

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In all three months, EMS responded to a record number of calls, compared to the previous 3 years.

September 2021 stats are for 3 weeks. The other Septembers are for 4 weeks.

Not only that, but the fourth quarter of 2021 saw the most EMS responses to opioid-related events than any other fourth quarter since 2018. In fact, it was the fourth highest number of any quarter during that period.


The previous quarter—July through September of 2021—saw record-breaking numbers of EMS responses..

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 2019236
Sep 2019–Aug 2020269
Sep 2020–Aug 2021358

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.

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By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent queer journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news articles, focusing on politics and labour.

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