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UPDATE: Surrey RCMP respond 59 sudden deaths during heat wave, with half of those on Tuesday

Police say officers responding to ‘higher than usual’ number of deaths since start of heat wave
(File photo: Black Press Media)

Surrey RCMP say officers responded to 59 suddens deaths during the heat wave over the last few days.

Constable Sarbjit Sangha said there has been “quite an increase” in sudden death calls since the start of the extreme weather condition late last week, with 59 sudden deaths from Saturday to Wednesday at 10 a.m. Of the 59 deaths, 31 were on Tuesday.

“While the causes of death has not yet been determined in each of these cases, we can confirm that Surrey RCMP is responding to a higher than usual number of deaths since the beginning of the extreme weather conditions,” she told the Now-Leader.

She added officers have also responded to people “who were in distress because of the heat.”

READ ALSO: Surrey needs cooling centres for homeless to ‘chill out,’ councillor says, June 28, 2021

Sangha said Surrey RCMP is “encouraging all community members to take precautions to guard themselves against heat injuries. It is especially important to reach out to assist vulnerable people and the elderly during the extreme heat.”

She also noted that if people are calling 911, there’s a possibility, especially if you’re asking for (an ambulance), that there might be a long wait.”

For the Surrey Fire Service, the department is “experiencing unprecedented high medical call volumes.”

John Lehmann, deputy chief of operations, said the call volume is “probably double what would be normal for us,” adding it could be related to the extreme heat.

The Surrey Fire Service, he said, is responding “in support of the ambulance service, with them being challenged as well, we’re experiencing long delays.”

While temperatures have dropped slightly and that trend is supposed to continue, Lehman said the department is “continuing to function at full staffing.”

“We’re busy, but we’re able to meet the call demand … I’ve heard that other Metro (Vancouver) fire departments are in the same type of situation.”

Meantime in White Rock, there has not been an increase in sudden deaths due to the heat wave, according to White Rock RCMP Staff Sergeant Kale Pauls.

PHOTOS: Heat records shattered in White Rock as B.C. bakes, June 29, 2021

“We are fortunate that the City of White Rock has a cooling station at the Community Centre (15154 Russell Ave.) for our officers to refer people to that don’t have air conditioning and are suffering,” he said.

We are also fortunate to have White Rock Fire provide extended medical care for calls where BC Ambulance may be delayed due to call volume.”

In an emailed statement from the BC Coroners Service, chief coroner Lisa Lapointe said from Friday (June 25) at 3 p.m. to Monday (June 28), there were at least 233 deaths reported.

“Since the onset of the heat wave late last week, the BC Coroners Service has experienced a significant increase in deaths reported where it is suspected that extreme heat has been contributory.”

She added the BC Coroners Service would normally receive approximately 130 reports of deaths over a four-day period.

– With files from Aaron Hinks

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Lauren Collins

About the Author: Lauren Collins

I'm a provincial reporter for Black Press Media's national team, after my journalism career took me across B.C. since I was 19 years old.
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