A first-hand account of the opioid crisis downtown Chilliwack

Local father witnesses man in the throes of overdose as school kids head to classes

After dropping his kids off at school on May 1, downtown Chilliwack resident witnessed a man overdosing at Williams and Yale. Matthew Orwin called 911 and stayed with the man until paramedics arrived.(Matt Orwin/Submitted)

As downtown Chilliwack school kids made their way to classes before first bell on Monday, many had to walk right by a man in the throes of a drug overdose as a woman screamed and cried for help.

After dropping his children off at school, downtown resident Matthew Orwin walked by the scene at Williams Street and Yale Road near Chilliwack secondary school and Chilliwack middle school and found himself forced into action.

He said he saw the two individuals shooting up behind the temporary fencing on the lot across from 7/11.

“The male was [overdosing] and his female companion was in shock, flailing about with a needle in her hand, screaming/crying for help,” Orwin said. “Heaps of student rushing to make first class. People bustling about yet no one seemed to stop to help.”

So Orwin called 911 and helped the female lay her friend down and open up his airways. When BC Ambulance paramedics arrived, Orwin said the male was given oxygen then a shot of naloxone after which he was “good as gold.”

The opioid crisis in the Lower Mainland and across Canada is only growing, and has been addressed by candidates both locally and provincially in the current election campaign.

Orwin said from what he’s seen, the situation locally is getting scary and concerning.

”Homelessness, mental health and addiction go hand in hand with the opioid crisis and it is at our doorstep,” Orwin said. “Over the last few weeks my children have witnessed a man injecting drugs into his arm right in front of RCMP. The downtown core is starting to look like East Hastings with our own Pigeon Park right at Five Corners.”