It was November 4th, the day after the first overdose at Occupy Vancouver– someone who luckily lived due to the heroic efforts of our volunteer medic, Mathew. The fire department had come to do an inspection on the camp- shake things up for us a bit, guessing the city was losing patience with OV…
When the fire department asked us to take down the tarps that lie over multiple tents, I had to make an objection. I told them that by doing this, addicts with drug problems would be forced to take drugs inside their tent-increasing the risk of someone dying. They paid little attention to what I said- most likely because they were being yelled at by many of the people who lived in the tents.
I got home, and in my frustration, I decided to write a Tweet to @MayorGregor. The message said:
After a short while I decided I should call the mayor’s office. So I called and left a message. After a couple of hours I still didn’t get a call back. I was a bit angry by that time- how could he not call me back, or at least send someone to call me! I said to the person taking the message that there is a life/death issue and it was urgent! Perhaps he was too busy campaigning…
So, I posted another tweet asking if anyone could suggest an organization that could help. One person recommended Union Gospel Mission, but another said a better choice would be Insite, a supervised injection site in East Vancouver.
So, I called Insite. On my first call the person I spoke with took my phone number, said they didn’t have a pen and were memorizing it. I called back after an hour- they had lost my number, took it down and said someone would call me back soon. A couple hours later I was contacted by a nurse, I explained that we needed someone to ‘outreach’ to people at OV with drug addictions. The nurse agreed to come to the Art Gallery on Saturday morning. Then, at around 8:30pm, I got another call from a supervisor- he didn’t know something was already setup with the nurse, I thanked him for calling and thanked Insite for committing to send someone to do outreach.
The next day I was at home, working on a paper I was writing when I saw a Tweet from @ScanBC it said that emergency crews were on scene with a unresponsive overdose at the Art Gallery. My heart sunk, and my stomach began to hurt- how could this happen! I did everything I could to stop it!
Once there was time for things to settle down, I called the medical tent to find out what happened. I was told that someone did come from Insite, but they came after the fatality, and only dropped-off medicines- they neglected to do any outreach. I was raging mad at this, felt they could have saved a life had they come earlier. Today, I am still disappointed, but learned that the victim had been deceased for about 12 hours before she was discovered- so, the tragedy still will have happened.
I’m incredibly disappointed with the VFD, Mayor Gregor’s office, and Insite. Despite being warned, all neglected to take responsibility and respond properly to my requests & warnings. I won’t speculate too much, but it seems like OV was just too politically ‘hot’ for them to handle. Sad…