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Provincial overdose Mobile Response Team helps people saving lives on the frontlines of the overdose crisis

SURREY – In its first year of operation, B.C.’s overdose Mobile Response Team (MRT) has provided critical incident support and training to more than 6,000 people who work on the frontlines of British Columbia’s overdose crisis.
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The MRT provides immediate, short-term support to first responders, frontline workers, and people with lived experience as they work to respond and prevent drug overdoses and deaths.

“In every community I visit, people on the frontlines are working tirelessly to save lives and connect people to the care they deserve. They are doing heroic work and deeply deserving of the professional support provided by the Mobile Response Team,” said Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “Our government recognizes the critical importance of keeping people physically and emotionally healthy as they respond to this public health emergency.”

The MRT is part of Health Emergency Management BC which is a program of the Provincial Health Services Authority. Workers being exposed to frequent traumatic events may be susceptible to compassion fatigue, trauma, and other stress-related harm. The MRT helps people proactively address the cumulative stress of their jobs during the overdose crisis.
Support can take the shape of one-on-one defusing or debriefings following overdoses, overdose deaths or critical incidents or educational sessions. The BC Government committed $1.7 million in funding in both 2018/19 and 2019/20 to ensure the sustainability of this crisis response initiative.

“People on the front lines are reporting consistent and high levels of stress and trauma as a result of responding to overdoses,” said John Lavery, executive director of Health Emergency Management BC. “The provincial overdose Mobile Response Team is providing critical supports vital to the crisis response.”

The MRT has travelled to 57 communities throughout B.C. to assist more than 593 agencies and community groups with customized trauma-informed supports for their frontline staff, and development of overdose response protocols. The Mobile Response Team, made up of 13 members with diverse backgrounds and skills, includes counsellors, psychologists, traumatologists and first responders.

The MRT works collaboratively with the provincial Overdose Emergency Response Centre (OERC) and supports frontline agencies in their resiliency protocols.

“People from all walks of life have come together to help save lives from overdose during this unprecedented crisis,” said Carolyn Sinclair, program manager, MRT. “Through the MRT, we are trying to make sure that workers have the support, tools, skills and opportunities within their agencies to cope with the immense grief, pain and loss they experience while helping others on the frontlines.”

The Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions is working with multiple partners on a wide range of actions spearheaded by the OERC and Regional Response and Community Action Teams in communities hardest hit by the overdose crisis. These teams are working hard to quickly intervene to save lives and to put services in place to better support people on a path to treatment and recovery.

The Provincial Health Services Authority plans, manages and evaluates selected specialty and province-wide health care services across BC, working with the five geographic health authorities to deliver province-wide solutions that improve the health of British Columbians. For more information, visit or follow them on Twitter @PHSAofBC.

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