VANCOUVER, Wash. (AP) — The latest report from Vancouver’s contracted ambulance company showed opioid overdoses in the region appear to be dropping so far in 2019 compared with the year prior.
The Columbian reports that during an annual report from American Medical Response, Dr. Lynn Wittwer, Clark County medical program director, reported that ambulance first responders reported 243 possible opioid calls in 2018. From January to June 2019, that number dropped to 76 calls — on track for far fewer opioid overdose responses this year.
“This year, we’re less than half, to this date. Things are possibly improving out there,” Wittwer said.
That’s not true of the rest of the state, where the number of EMS opioid responses are on track to surpass last year. Washington’s first responders have logged 3,221 opioid overdoses as of June. If that rate continues, 2019’s opioid responses will exceed 2018’s total of 5,547 calls.
Clark County is bucking statewide opioid death trends, too. In 2017 — the most recent available data — Washington’s rate of opioid overdose deaths hit 9.6 per 100,000 people. The county’s rate was a little better, with 7.3 overdose deaths out of 100,000 people.
Wittwer partially credits the drop to the increasing availability of Naloxone, a drug that when administered immediately can counteract the effects of opioids and pull a user’s body back from the edge of a fatal overdose.