New app can help track overdoses
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.