Police in Vancouver, British Columbia have responded to more than 60 sudden death calls since Friday as a heat wave has hit the city, officials announced Tuesday.
The Vancouver Police Department (VPD) urged citizens in a press release to only call 911 in cases of extreme emergency as the city was facing “unprecedented casualties.” Temperatures in Vancouver reached around 90 degrees Fahrenheit over the weekend, according to the Associated Press.
“The vast majority of these cases are related to the heat,” VPD Sergeant Steve Addison said in the news release, though police are still investigating the cause.
VPD warned that the high volume of calls was preventing officers from performing their regular duties, and said it would be a few days before everything was back to normal.
#VPDNews: Vancouver Police are redeploying dozens of officers and are pleading for people to only call 9-1-1 during emergencies, as heat-related deaths have depleted front-line resources and severely delayed response times throughout the city. https://t.co/vjlLB9YmO2 pic.twitter.com/VqkE7juEtP
— Vancouver Police (@VancouverPD) June 29, 2021
“Vancouver has never experienced heat like this, and sadly dozens of people are dying because of it,” Addison said. “Our officers are stretched thin, but we’re still doing everything we can to keep people safe.” (RELATED: Wildfires Spread Through California And Arizona As Drought Continues)
“Today alone, officers had responded to 20 sudden deaths as of 1:45 p.m., with more than a dozen others waiting for police to be dispatched,” the Tuesday statement read.
Police deployed dozens of extra officers and reassigned officers from other divisions to help deal with the backlog of calls, the department said.
“Until this subsides, our priority will be responding to crimes-in-progress and calls that involve an immediate risk to the public,” Addison said.
The high temperatures in British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest are the result of a “heat dome,” an area of high pressure that keeps heat from escaping, according to National Geographic. Temperatures in Portland reached 115 degrees Fahrenheit, and Seattle saw temperatures of 108 degrees Fahrenheit, both record highs according to Weather.com.
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