Overdose mapping system could be used in fight against heroin

First responders in the Louisville Metro area say a real-time overdose mapping system could help them in the fight against the ongoing heroin epidemic.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- First responders in the Louisville Metro area are hoping that a real time overdose mapping system could help them in the fight against the ongoing heroin epidemic.

It’s an epidemic that Dr. Joanne Schulte, the Director of Louisville Metro Public Health, says has gotten nearly out of control.

“I think it’s a huge problem, and I think it’s made worse currently by the mixture of drugs that you don’t know what’s out there,” said Schulte. “They have to worry about people now shooting up in the stacks in the library.”

With mixtures of heroin, fentanyl, and carfentanil ravaging lives, NARCAN had been viewed as the only line of defense. However, Louisville Metro EMS could soon have another tool in their bag.

“You have early warning when a tornado is coming,” said Schulte.  “It would be nice to have early warning if you have something going on with heroin.  Heroin is never good, but if there is new stuff going on or you’re seeing a spike then that’s news we need to know.”

That’s why Schulte is pushing for the city to adopt the Overdose Detection Mapping App that has been successful in the High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area of Washington D.C. and Baltimore.

“For somebody to already have something canned and it’s out there working in other jurisdictions, and potentially we can adopt it, it’s just a win for every agency,” said Jody Meiman.

“It takes about a minute and a half to two minutes to enter and it has geographic coordinates with it,” said Schulte.  “You can map where the overdoses are happening.  As you put stuff together across a region you can see it as it comes down towards you.”

“Once it’s here it’s here, and we need to identify where it’s coming from and where it could be going if it starts here,” said Meiman.  “We’re looking to regionalize it, and get with the other emergency managers in the surrounding counties.”

This will allow emergency rooms and first responders to be better prepared for overdose epidemics ultimately saving more lives in a way never possible before.

“The two spikes that Louisville had in the summer and in February of this year, we were half way through them before we realized what was going on,” said Schulte.

While the overdose tracking app is free, Schulte and Meiman are hoping to use some of the Mayor's proposed $200,000 budget to fight the epidemic. They hope to hire full-time workers to enter the data as it comes in.

That funding still needs final approval by Metro Council.

© 2017 WHAS-TV


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