Overdose van hits the streets


Northern Health says a new mobile overdose prevention service is now operational in Fort St. John.

Northern Health says a new mobile overdose prevention service is now operational in Fort St. John.

In a statement, the health authority says the mobile service includes a personalized van and insulated tent that offers “witnessed substance use,” as well as take-out naloxone kits and other harm reduction supplies.

Northern Health says the service will “support people who use substances and help prevent toxic drug poisonings and toxic drug deaths.”

“We are thrilled to have the new overdose prevention van on the road, saving lives and distributing valuable harm reduction supplies,” said Donna Ward, Northeast Director of Specialist Services for Northern Health, in the communicated. “Mobile OPS is another opportunity for us to partner with the community to address the current toxic drug crisis that is impacting health care in our community.”

According to the statement, the van is currently traveling through major downtown neighborhoods early each weekday morning before parking at the First Nations Health Authority lot at 10130 100 Ave. for four hours each weekday afternoon.

Northern Health says by March 1, the service will expand with more staff and operating hours to a second location next to the Salvation Army shelter.

Startup funding for the service is approximately $142,000 from Northern Health, according to the release.

There were 26 fatal drug overdoses in northeastern British Columbia in 2021, the second-deadliest year on record for the region, according to year-end data from the BC Coroners Service.

The majority of the deaths, 18 of them, were reported in the South Peace region. Seven deaths have been reported in North Peace and one in Fort Nelson.

In northern British Columbia, there were 146 overdose deaths last year, including 79 in the northern interior – 57 in Prince George alone – and 41 deaths in the northwest.

According to data from the Coroners Service, the overwhelming majority of people who die are men, and most often in their homes.

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