From July 2020 to 2021, Interior health saw an increase of more than 700 per cent in heat-related calls.
The heatwave that swept across much of western North America, over the last two weeks, saw BC Emergency Health Service responding to a spike in heat-related 911 calls. Paramedics responded to calls such as heat exhaustion and heatstroke. A majority of calls were primarily between June 25 to June 29, during the peak of the heatwave.
Record temperatures were recorded across the province and according to Environment Canada, Revelstoke saw the mercury reached a maximum of 35 C on June 29. Comparatively the maximum air temperature for June in 2020 was 27 C.
“On June 28, paramedics responded to 1,975 patient events – the highest ever ambulance call volume day for B.C,” Said Sarah Morris media relations officer for BCEHS.
Last month, in Interior Health, paramedics responding to a total of 64 heat-related calls. Already in July, there has been a total of 47 calls, compared to six for the entire month of 2020, more than a 700 per cent increase.
According to the BCEHS, there were no heat-related calls in Revelstoke, however, local emergency crews did respond to one in Golden on June 29.
The BC Coroners’ Service released a report that put the preliminary death toll at 486 between June 25 and June 30.
“The 486 deaths currently entered represent a 195 per cent increase over the approximately 165 deaths that would normally occur in the province over a five-day period,” chief coroner Lisa Lapointe said in a statement.
“While it is too early to say with certainty how many of these deaths are heat-related, it is believed likely that the significant increase in deaths reported is attributable to the extreme weather B.C. has experienced and continues to impact many parts of our province.”
According to Morris, the provincial government is working toward hiring more first responders as well as deliver ambulances.
“So far this year, 271 paramedics have been hired across the province and 322 more positions were posted July 2,” Said Morris. “The average spending increase for BCEHS over the last four years is 7.95 per cent annually – from $424.25 million to $559.12 million. This is over double the percentage from the previous four years.”