Overdose prevention app coming to Alberta to support those struggling with addiction
CALGARY -- Starting this summer, the province will begin testing a new app in Calgary, designed to help prevent overdose deaths for those using opioids at home.
“DORS is a mobile application that will help protect people using opioids and other substances while alone,” said Jason Luan, association minister of mental health and addictions.
The Digital Overdose Response System (DORS) will trigger a call from the STARS emergency centre if the individual becomes unresponsive to a timer. First responders would then be dispatched to their location in the event of a presumed overdose.
“Data from our past four years shows that majority of people dying as a result of accidental opioid poisoning do so in their own homes….This is tragic and preventable,” said Luan.
70 PER CENT OF DEATHS OCCUR IN A RESIDENCE
In 2020, 1,128 people died in Alberta from an opioid overdose, according to the province. 70 per cent of deaths last year occurred in a private residence. The province said this is similar to trends from previous years and highlights the need for innovative resources to help prevent overdoses, especially for those using alone at home.
The department of mental health and addictions said from 2018 to 2020, 60 to 80 per cent of opioid-related fatalities in Calgary and Edmonton occurred in suburban neighbourhoods outside the downtown core.
“This application has the opportunity to help us provide a faster response for our patients who may need us,” said Naomi Nania, paramedic and public education officer, Calgary zone EMS< Alberta Health Services.
“People who use drugs at home are a hard-to-reach segment of the population,” she said.
TESTING IN CALGARY
The DORS system will begin testing in Calgary in the summer and is expected to expand to other communities next year after the testing phase is complete.
The province said Calgary has been chosen as the test location because the city consistently has seen high overdose deaths. In 2020, 385 Calgarians died from an overdose. There were 228 opioid-related deaths in Calgary in 2019.
The app is another harm reduction measure receiving provincial funding. The budget for the DORS app testing phase is $325,000 which also supports the development of the app.