High Number Of Opioid Overdoses

Windsor-Essex County

Date/Time/Approximate Location

February 24th, and March 2nd, 2023

Windsor-Essex County

Event Description

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit’s (WECHU) Opioid and Substance Use Notification System has identified an increase in the number of opioid overdose Emergency Department (ED) visits Emergency Medical Services (EMS) calls between February 24th and March 2nd of 2023.

Over this seven-day consecutive period, the system flagged a total of eleven (11) opioid overdose ED visits, eight (8) of which involved fentanyl. There were also twenty (20) EMS calls during this period.

Together, the eleven (11) opioid overdoses combined with the seven (7) days of opioid overdose ED visits and twenty (20) EMS calls are values that warrant a public alert.

In addition, a memorandum was issued on February 28, 2023, by the Chief Medical Officer of Health and the Chief Coroner for Ontario detailing a recent increase in the presence of xylazine and benzodiazepines in Ontario’s unregulated drug supply.

The following is a few of the key points from the memorandum:

  • The use of xylazine and benzodiazepines alone is associated with increased risks of toxicity, which is further increased with the use of other depressants such as opioids and/or alcohol.
  • Although symptoms and signs are like those associated with opioids, xylazine and benzodiazepines do not respond to naloxone administration. Naloxone remains effective against acute toxicity from opioids, and it can be safely administered to people who have taken both opioid and non-opioid drugs, including xylazine and benzodiazepines

Partners involved in the WECOSS, including the WECHU, Windsor Regional Hospital, Essex Windsor-EMS, Erie Shores Healthcare, and Police Services, continue to monitor this increase and are working to understand more about these reported cases.

Suggested Actions

Please share the Alert amongst your networks.  If you are aware of any linkages between these cases or other causes for these increases, please contact the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit.


  • Never use alone.
  • Try a very small amount first – “Start low and go slow.”
  • If you use with a friend, do not use at the exact same time.
  • Avoid mixing substances.
  • Call 9-1-1 immediately if something doesn’t feel right.
  • Have naloxone ready. Know how to respond to and prevent an opioid overdose.

You can also visit the WECOSS Data Dashboard for additional statistics on opioid and other substance use in Windsor-Essex County.


WECHU (Acute Care Enhanced Surveillance Application - ACES), Essex-Windsor EMS Overdose Notification System, Windsor Police Services