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Program maps overdose data in real time


The Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — First responders and public health officials may soon be able to record, track and study the entirety of the nation’s drug overdoses when and where they happen through a new multi-agency platform developed by the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Agency.

Jeff Beeson, deputy director with the Washington office of High Intensity Drug Trafficking Agency (HIDTA), discusses a new Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program Thursday at Marshall University’s Student Center in Huntington.
(Herald-Dispatch photo by Sholten Singer)

The Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program, or ODMAP, was introduced to Huntington officials Thursday during a presentation at Marshall University as an answer to bridging the information gap between public health and public safety, said Jeff Beeson, deputy director with the Washington, D.C., HIDTA office.

ODMAP is an online, real-time data analysis that allows first responders to record when and where overdoses occur down to a specific address. Within seconds of entering data, the information and location of the overdose is published on a map for other participating agencies to see.

By tracking when and where overdoses occur and sharing that information in real time with other public agencies, such as law enforcement, health departments and treatment organizations, Beeson said ODMAP allows for any party with a stake in unraveling the opioid epidemic a chance to track overdose trends as they happen.

It takes just two seconds and as little as two taps for first responders to log an overdose through the program, Beeson explained.

Once logged into the program through their phone or computer, a responder will select a button indicating if the overdose was fatal or non-fatal and if naloxone was administered with one dose, multiple doses or none at all. The responder’s location is logged automatically through the phone’s GPS capability or an address may be entered manually.

ODMAP is not available for general public use, and no personally identifying information is collected for victims or their locations.

Never before has there been a program capable of collecting and publishing overdose data in real time, said Dr. Rahul Gupta, commissioner for the West Virginia Bureau of Public Health and state health officer.

In addition to tracking all overdoses, not just fatalities, Gupta noted that up-to-the-minute mapping allows public health officials to spot dangerous batches of drugs as overdoses begin to occur.

Crowdsourcing overdoses onto a multi-agency platform also lends itself to law enforcement’s ability to track drug shipments as overdoses begin to pop up along a certain route, Gupta added.

Launched in January and expected to be nationwide by June, HIDTA has already signed 185 teaming agreements for ODMAP in 20 different states, including in West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle.

The national scope also allows agencies to track and predict when drug trends will appear in their area. A spike in overdoses in Columbus, Ohio, or Detroit, for example, may forecast the same to come in Huntington as the drugs move along their established routes into town.

“How important would it have been to have that information in August 2016 when 28 overdoses hit?” said Jim Johnson, director of the West Virginia State Office of Drug Control Policy. “When we see the trends indicating that it will be here, wouldn’t it have been nice to be ready?”

ODMAP is also capable of detecting overdose spikes like Huntington experienced last summer and generating automated alerts to public health and law enforcement as it happens.

“The solution to the whole drug epidemic is going to be found in communities, not Washington or Charleston. This is something that a community can come together to use and develop on its own,” Johnson said.

For more information about ODMAP or to request permission to participate, contact Beeson by emailing [email protected].

Follow reporter Bishop Nash on Twitter @BishopNash.

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