Emergency responders are bracing for an extra busy couple of days with another heatwave descending upon some parts of Vancouver Island.
Concerned responders include 911 operators who say many people call unnecessarily on busy long weekends.
“The August long weekend historically, it’s always a very busy time for emergency services including E-comm because of the heatwave,” said Jasmine Bradley, an E-Comm 911 spokesperson. “Because of what we’ve been seeing in terms of patterns of increasing call volumes as covid restrictions have been lifted it’s leading us to be very nervous about what we’re going to be seeing this weekend.”
They’re urging people to only call 911 if it’s an emergency and say non-emergency lines may have long wait times and 36 per cent of the calls should be directed elsewhere.
“We need people to understand how to make the right call. When to call 911. When to call the non-emergency line and when actually to use other resources,” said Bradley.
She also says many non-emergency matters can be reported online or should be reported to other agencies such as the BC Tenancy Branch or ICBC for crashes with no injuries or threat to public safety.
During the last heatwave, more than 500 people died across B.C. Fire officials in Nanaimo who responded to a man down with dehydration issues today possibly from the heat say they’re expecting a surge in calls.
“The last heatwave we were definitely busy, medical aids for the elderly or the homeless that are out and about in the community and we expect more of the same this weekend,” said Cpt. Scott Mitrenga of Nanaimo Fire Rescue.
People living in apartments without air conditioning are among those concerned about the coming heat wave.
“It’s brutal, especially with no air conditioning. I had five cold showers when the other heatwave came just to survive. It was just unbearable,” said Ardy Buron.
Buron covered his windows with tin foil before the last heatwave but says already it’s cooler outside than inside his home. He says he worries for the seniors in his building.
“I’m barely surviving. I can imagine how they feel and I’m younger than most of the people that are in this building,” said Buron.
Cooling stations across Vancouver Island have opened to give some relief to the vulnerable.
“If people don’t have a place to get out of that heat they could easily die [of] heatstroke [or] heat exhaustion,” said Gord Fuller of the 7-10 Club which hosts a cooling station.
The heat wave is expected to last through Saturday night, according to Environment Canada.