Mayor Stewart welcomes Captain Jonathan Gormick as new dedicated lead for Vancouver Fire on Overdose Response Team
Mayor Stewart joined Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services (VFRS) Chief Karen Fry along with Vancouver Coastal’s (VCH) Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Patricia Daly in welcoming Captain Jonathan Gormick as VFRS’s dedicated lead on the Combined Overdose Response Team, a joint initiative that sees Vancouver firefighters and VCH health care staff follow up with overdose patients and connect them to treatment and support services.
“The Combined Overdose Response Team helps save lives by breaking the cycle of repeated overdoses,” said Mayor Stewart. “And now, thanks to funding secured in the City’s 2021 budget, we’ve turned an innovative pilot project into a dedicated position with the appointment of Captain Jonathan Gormick.”
The team started as a pilot project on August 1, 2019, and as of April 1, 2021, has made contact with 193 patients, connecting 151 of them with health care. Of those 151, 70 patients were from the Downtown Eastside, while 81 were from elsewhere in Vancouver.
“Our firefighters are out in the community 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and we continue to see an escalation in overdose calls and frequently to the same individual,” said VFRS Chief Karen Fry. “Not only does this impact the individual who is continually overdosing but has a profound impact on our firefighters who struggle with their own mental wellness and moral injury. Prevention is key to reducing risk, and having this amazing partnership with Vancouver Coastal Health and the Overdose Response Team is critical to saving lives.”
“The Combined Overdose Response Team has proven to be a valuable tool in our efforts to reduce overdose deaths as it helps us engage with difficult-to-reach populations, and connect people with support and services,” said VCH Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Patricia Daly. “We’re so pleased to see this investment in the program with the appointment of Captain Gormick.”
“The impact of this program is evident every time we meet a patient. These are people from across the City and from every background imaginable, who are slipping through the cracks, suffering and dying because of barriers that don’t exist for other health issues,” said VFRS Captain Jonathan Gormick. “Having someone show up in person to offer supports and services can be a pivotal moment and one that leads to reduced risk of mortality, sickness, and suffering.”