HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — The health officer for West Virginia sees a new overdose detection mapping app as a way to better mobilize public health responses to such OD emergencies.

“The idea is that every time our law enforcement, first responders respond to an overdose case, they’re able to put this in a live app and whether they administered naloxone or what happened and that is able to be captured in real-time systems,” said Dr. Rahul Gupta.

On Thursday, he joined Jeff Beeson, deputy director and chief of staff for the Washington/Baltimore High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, and Chad Napier, Appalachian HIDTA prevention coordinator, at Marshall University in Huntington to provide an overview of the new Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program or ODMAP.

Beeson described ODMAP as “a tool that links our public health and safety resources through data to maximize our resources.” It allows for quick identification of ODs at local, regional or state levels.

Such cross-jurisdiction tracking of overdoses, Gupta said, is already happened in the Eastern Panhandle and in other parts of the U.S. and his goal is to see it expanded to additional counties in West Virginia.

He used a single day from last year in Cabell County when more than 20 people overdosed in a span of hours as an example of when real-time OD reporting could have been especially helpful to health officials and others.

Currently, “I wouldn’t know and nobody would know about it until you all in media reported it or the next day,” Gupta said on Thursday’s MetroNews “Talkline.

“This allows us, if there’s 20-25 people in a certain neighborhood who get overdosed, then we’re able not only to respond to it more timely, but also to prepare the hospitals.”

With the app, personal identifying information on the victim of the overdose or the specific location is not included in the date reported.

Nationally, more than 64,000 overdose deaths were recorded in 2016, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse.

“We’re doing a good job tracking deaths, I think it’s time for us to start tracking overdoses so we can prevent those deaths,” Gupta said.

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