Wednesday, November 15, 2017

New app maps opioid overdose deaths in real time

A new app is helping more than 250 law-enforcement, first-responder and public-health agencies in 27 states manage the opioid-overdose epidemic. The app, called ODMAP, was created by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's Washington/Baltimore High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area team a year ago. With it, first responders can record the time and location of overdoses and send the data to a regional mapping database.

Because funding to cope with the epidemic is often limited, this kind of data helps agencies pinpoint efforts where they're needed most. And it fills a gap: though some cities and states collect data on opioid-related drug busts, arrests and overdose deaths, there has been no effort to compile consistent, timely nationwide data, and few states share data with each other. "The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention compiles overdose death data from state death certificates, but the information is published only once a year and is more than a year old," Christine Vestal reports for Stateline. "So far, ODMAP has been adopted in parts of Alabama, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Michigan, Montana, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and West Virginia."

Here's how it works: on the scene of an overdose, first responders record the incident with a single click on one of six color-coded bars on the screen. The information is transmitted to a central database with location and time. Interested parties from hospitals to lawmakers can access the data at any time and act accordingly. For example, if a spike in overdoses happens in a community, surrounding areas can be on standby for a potential surge in ODs, since the same dealers will likely be selling those drugs nearby, Vestal reports.

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