Fentanyl crisis: 9 overdose deaths in Vancouver last night
Vancouver's police chief says the fentanyl crisis hit a brutal low point Thursday with the overdose deaths of nine people in a single night.
Flanked by Mayor Gregor Robertson and other emergency officials at a news conference, Chief Adam Palmer said serious help is needed to deal with a situation, which is claiming lives at an alarming rate.
"Can you imagine nine people dying from any other cause in one day in our city," Palmer told a news conference. "We need a longer term strategy to help people in crisis."
Citing statistics from his officers which suggest that as many as 35 people died of fentanyl overdoses in November alone, Palmer said addicts need "treatment on demand."
He said health workers are having to send people as far away as Armstrong and Nanaimo because of a lack of available beds in the Lower Mainland.
A grim-faced Robertson echoed Palmer's plea. He said waiting eight to nine days for treatment is unacceptable in an environment where an estimated 1,300 people are taking illicit opioids every day.
"Thirteen hundred people on any given day are playing Russian roulette with fentanyl," Robertson said.
"It's desperate times in Vancouver right now, and it's hard to see any silver lining when we don't seem to have hit rock bottom."