Polk first re­spon­ders to have over­dose map­ping tools

The Standard Journal - - FRONT PAGE - By Kevin Myrick [email protected]­stan­dard­jour­nal.net

A ma­jor prob­lem with con­trol­ling the il­le­gal drug trade is track­ing where prod­uct is com­ing from, and where it is go­ing.

That is es­pe­cially the case with opi­oids, which can come from a va­ri­ety of places around the world and when dis­trib­uted to cus­tomers on the street, can be cut with any­thing from baby pow­der to fen­tanyl, which in years past and present con­tin­ues to kill users in over­doses across the coun­try.

Now there’s an ef­fort un­der­way to col­lect as much data as al­lowed about over­dose cases in or­der to track where those opi­oids are com­ing from, and how they get onto the street and what harm they cause in the process.

That’s the mis­sion of peo­ple like Wil­liam Triv­el­piece, a law en­force­ment vet­eran who works with the fed­eral govern­ment in an ef­fort to get first re­spon­ders to of­fer up in­for­ma­tion in real time about where over­doses are hap­pen­ing, and some cir­cum­stances be­hind the care of pa­tients.

“The over­doses that are hap­pen­ing aren’t just opi­oid-based any­more,” Triv­el­piece said in a pre­sen­ta­tion he gave on Feb. 26 to lo­cal first re­spon­ders about ef­forts to gather more in­for­ma­tion. “You know bet­ter than I do that the king drug is still meth. The No. 2 drug for your county is co­caine, and the third drug is some type of opi­oid.”

He said that part of the prob­lem is that when drugs like metham­phetamines are be­ing pro­cessed, deal­ers will add in opi­oids into the mix so users will get a greater ef­fect from the drug, but don’t re­al­ize what they are us­ing.

Triv­el­piece was pre­vi­ously an At­lanta Po­lice De­part­ment of­fi­cer with more than two decades of ex­pe­ri­ence on the job be­fore he re­tired, and then moved onto a job help­ing fight drug traf­fick­ing. Polk County was likely one of his fi­nal pre­sen­ta­tions as or­ga­niz­ers of the At­lanta-Caroli­nas High In­ten­sity Drug Traf­fick­ing Area’s (HIDTA) por­tion of the Over­dose De­tec­tion Map­ping Ap­pli­ca­tion Pro­gram (ODMAP,) which he is seek­ing to get more ar­eas in­volved in track­ing of over­dose cases on the na­tional level.

Though he’s mov­ing up to a new role, he’ll still be in­volved in the pro­gram, which is an ef­fort to get as much data as pos­si­ble about drug traf­fick­ing of opi­oids and the ef­fects they have im­me­di­ately on peo­ple.

Triv­el­piece showed off an app that first re­spon­ders can use in the field to im­me­di­ately re­port data on an over­dose, which links up to the na­tional data­base and map­ping ca­pa­bil­i­ties that then pro­duce real-time data about where over­doses are hap­pen­ing. He’s seek­ing to get Polk County in­volved and in­clude their in­for­ma­tion along with 23 in Ge­or­gia al­ready send­ing in data.

The in­creas­ing num­ber of over­doses are com­ing closer to home. Just in Jan­uary alone, Har­al­son County had the high­est rate based on pop­u­la­tion of over­doses through­out the state, on a per 100,000 peo­ple av­er­age, they had 60 for the month.

“An­other county that is pretty close is Bar­tow,” he said. “Bar­tow has con­sis­tently for the past year been in the Top 5. and you guys lie right next to two of those coun­ties.”

Triv­el­piece said that 46 states across the coun­try also par­tic­i­pate in the map­ping pro­gram in one way or an­other.

One way to solve the opi­oid cri­sis is through gath­er­ing data.

In the area around the Wash­ing­ton/Bal­ti­more HIDTA where a test pi­lot pro­gram of map­ping started ODMAP in three coun­ties in West Vir­ginia and one in Mary­land, the in­for­ma­tion gath­ered on spikes in opi­oid over­doses — which hap­pened twice dur­ing the pi­lot pro­gram — al­lowed law en­force­ment to see the pat­tern of drug traf­fick­ing through the re­gion.

When a prod­uct that was caus­ing over­doses be­cause of fen­tanyl or car­fen­tanyl ended up in the il­le­gal opi­oid dis­tri­bu­tion stream, it usu­ally hit in Bal­ti­more first. Then about 8 hours later dur­ing spike in­ci­dents, they saw the same pat­tern turn up with cases in West Vir­ginia. All told, they recorded 300 over­doses in the time of the pi­lot pro­gram.

That gave law en­force­ment the un­der­stand­ing that there was a de­lay be­tween when Bal­ti­more drug deal­ers were dis­tribut­ing prod­uct to end cus­tomers that was from the same batch, and then sev­eral hours for it to make its way up to deal­ers in north­west Mary­land and West Vir­ginia, which in turn would give agents track­ing the crim­i­nals who are dis­tribut­ing prod­uct a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of their move­ments.

“It’s in 1,800 ju­ris­dic­tions across the coun­try that are us­ing it,” Triv­el­piece said.

In Ge­or­gia, Triv­el­piece said the data is al­ready com­ing in handy in track­ing over­doses in places like Au­gusta, where they pro­vide the real-time data law en­force­ment can then go back and study, and hope to lead to more in­for­ma­tion that will even­tu­ally end with an ar­rest of sus­pects.

Ul­ti­mately, his trip to Polk County’s Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency of­fices on Feb. 26 meant to pro­vide the in­for­ma­tion that first re­spon­ders need about how it works, and to be able to turn around and train oth­ers on the pro­gram.

Polk County Com­mis­sion Chair Jen­nifer Hulsey, who is also help­ing or­ga­nize the Polk Against Drugs pro­gram, said that with rep­re­sen­ta­tives from law en­force­ment, EMS and the fire de­part­ments all on hand for the meet­ing, it won’t be long be­fore the cities and county be­gin im­ple­ment­ing the data shar­ing ef­fort as part of their rou­tine in the field.

“Polk County is very ex­cited about this OD Map­ping pro­gram. We know that this prob­lem is na­tion­wide. We are com­mit­ted to be­ing a proac­tive govern­ment. We want to find so­lu­tions and work with and as­sist our first re­spon­ders any way we can,” Hulsey said. “I am ex­cited to see the fu­ture and how we are go­ing to tackle this na­tion­wide prob­lem in our com­mu­nity. The cities and the county are com­mit­ted to mak­ing this suc­cess­ful and I look for­ward to us con­tin­u­ing to make progress on this is­sue.”

It won’t cost the county or cities any ad­di­tional money to take part in ODMAP, since it pro­vides the ap­pli­ca­tion and back­end man­age­ment of data free of charge. The soft­ware doesn’t col­lect any in­for­ma­tion that can iden­tify a pa­tient when in the field, and no data about vic­tims are stored in the cen­tral data­base.

The map­ping ap­pli­ca­tion does ask whether a vic­tim sur­vived or died, and how many doses of over­dose re­vers­ing med­i­ca­tions like Nar­can were ad­min­is­tered.

De­pend­ing on the soft­ware used, it can take only five to 30 sec­onds for the data to show up on a na­tional level. Pre­vi­ous ef­forts to get in­for­ma­tion usu­ally had a 72-hour lag from data get­ting from the field into the hands of those who need to study it for trends and clues to­ward ul­ti­mate ar­rests.

“They don’t have to be on the scene to regis­ter the in­for­ma­tion,” Triv­el­piece added.

As long as 911 op­er­a­tors have the soft­ware on their ter­mi­nals, they can pro­vide the in­for­ma­tion if first re­spon­ders don’t have im­me­di­ate avail­abil­ity to do so, such as a lack of good sig­nal cov­er­age in the most ru­ral parts of the county. Re­ports are com­piled weekly as well and pro­vided to of­fi­cials.

/ kevin Myrick

Lo­cal of­fi­cials lis­tened to a pre­sen­ta­tion about get­ting over­dose map­ping ap­pli­ca­tions into the hands of first re­spon­ders free of charge.

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