New app can help track over­doses

The Oklahoman - - NEWS - BY RANDY EL­LIS Staff Writer rel­lis@ok­la­

The Ok­la­homa Bureau of Nar­cotics and Dan­ger­ous Drugs Con­trol has hired 10 new agents who are be­ing de­ployed through­out the state to in­ves­ti­gate opi­oid diver­sions, di­rec­tor John Scully an­nounced Fri­day.

The agency also is rolling out a new smart­phone app called ODMAP that will al­low law en­force­ment agents and first re­spon­ders to track both fa­tal and non­fa­tal drug over­doses in real time, he said.

At­tor­ney Gen­eral Mike Hunter praised both ini­tia­tives.

“We’re go­ing to in­ves­ti­gate pill mills and shut them down,” Hunter said. “The real-time data that ODMAPing pro­vides al­lows for an im­me­di­ate re­sponse tar­get­ing hot spot ar­eas and shut­ting down crim­i­nal drug deal­ers.”

At a news con­fer­ence, Hunter and Scully talked about the dev­as­tat­ing im­pact that opi­oid abuse has had on Ok­la­homa fam­i­lies, with Hunter call­ing it a “mod­ern-day plague’ that has “cre­ated a gen­er­a­tion of ad­dicts and a swath of de­struc­tion.”

Scully said state ef­forts to com­bat opi­oid and other drug abuse are hav­ing an im­pact but more needs to be done.

He pointed to charts that showed na­tional drug over­dose deaths have been ris­ing ev­ery year, go­ing from 43,982 in 2013 to 72,306 in 2017. Mean­while, state over­dose deaths dropped to 796 in 2017 af­ter in­creas­ing steadily from 779 in 2013 to 899 in 2016.

Na­tion­ally, pre­scrip­tion opi­oid deaths have in­creased ev­ery year, go­ing from 14,145 in 2013 to 17,087 in 2016, while Ok­la­homa opi­oid deaths have been on the de­cline, go­ing from 509 in 2013 to 316 in 2017.

Roll out of the ODMAP smart­phone app is an ef­fort to de­crease all types of fa­tal and non­fa­tal drug over­doses even fur­ther, of­fi­cials said.

The app cur­rently is in use by eight Ok­la­homa agen­cies in Custer, Garvin and Le Flore Coun­ties and the goal is to have the tech­nol­ogy avail­able through­out the state by next sum­mer, of­fi­cials said.

The app is free to law en­force­ment and first re­spon­ders, but not avail­able to the gen­eral pub­lic, said Mark Wood­ward, spokesman for the Ok­la­homa Bureau of Nar­cotics and Dan­ger­ous Drugs Con­trol.

Data that goes into the ODMAP app is col­lected by first re­spon­ders, of­ten within min­utes of ar­riv­ing on an over­dose scene, of­fi­cials said. The re­spon­ders don’t re­port per­sonal iden­ti­fy­ing in­for­ma­tion on the vic­tim to the app, but do re­port the lo­ca­tion, age and gen­der of the vic­tim, along with in­for­ma­tion about whether the over­dose was fa­tal, of­fi­cials said.

Scully said the state med­i­cal ex­am­iner al­ready is re­port­ing in­for­ma­tion on all Ok­la­homa over­dose deaths for the app. Data about non­fa­tal over­doses will be­come more com­plete as roll­out of the app ex­pands.

The app con­tains an alert fea­ture that will al­low law en­force­ment of­fi­cials to be no­ti­fied if a cer­tain num­ber of over­doses are re­ported in a spe­cific area within a set time frame, he said.

Hav­ing that data avail­able so quickly will en­able law en­force­ment of­fi­cials to re­spond by de­ploy­ing ad­di­tional in­ves­ti­ga­tors to prob­lem ar­eas or no­ti­fy­ing health pro­fes­sion­als and the pub­lic if a par­tic­u­larly dan­ger­ous batch of drugs has shown up in an area, he said.

The ODMAP ap­pli­ca­tion has been rolled out pre­vi­ously in other states. Its use in Ok­la­homa was rec­om­mended by the Ok­la­homa Com­mis­sion on Opi­oid Abuse, which was cre­ated at the rec­om­men­da­tion of Hunter, who serves as its chair­man.

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