New Lifeguard App Launched To Automate Drug Overdose Response
Over the past few years, the opioid overdose crisis has continued to impact communities in Canada. The scale at which families have been influenced by this crisis is huge. People from all spheres of socio-economic backgrounds, genders & age groups have been affected by the crisis.
Over 3000 overdose deaths were reported in Canada in 2019, a reminder that the opioid crisis is still one of our biggest public health emergencies. Addiction is obviously a key issue, but even those taking drugs casually can ignore the overdose risk and it’s ultimate results.
In 2020, the opioid crisis has been compounded with the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic
Lockdown measures have led to more users taking drugs alone at home, with no support in the event of an accidental overdose.
Numbers suggest that out of 800 reported deaths in Western Canada in 2019, 67% died due to accidental overdose. Deaths have been reported in hotel rooms, cars and private homes. In many cases, the user was alone and thus without help when the overdose occurred.
This is where the Lifeguard App offers a new solution.
Lifeguard connects a user with emergency responders and is designed to work on platforms such as smartphones and tablets. The app is activated by the drug user before drug consumption.
50 seconds after activation, the app will sound an alarm. If the user fails to stop the alarm, the alarm increases in volume. Once past the 75-second mark, an automatic text-to-voice call is made to 9-1-1, alerting them of a possible overdose and indicating the user is unable to function and has become unconscious.
Lifeguard sends the location of the user, the type of drugs consumed, and time of consumption to emergency responders.
Powered by Lifeguard Digital Health and developed by Essential Designs, the app has been extensively trialed since 2017 at various real-world test sites including Single Occupant Residencies in Vancouver’s downtown eastside.
In designing the app, Lifeguard Digital Health collaborated with the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA), Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions, and the Overdose Emergency Response Centre in British Columbia, with a mutual goal of saving as many lives as possible.
Lifeguard is fully secure when it comes to user privacy. It is in the app’s DNA to respect the user’s confidential data. As the connection is established and details are passed on to the emergency responders, the information is automatically erased from the app.
In a statement from the BC Ministry of Mental Health and Addiction, Minister Judy Darcy noted that “as we face down two public health emergencies – the overdose crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic – we must ensure that people who use drugs have the resources they need. The launch of this new resource couldn’t have come at a better time.”