Tool helps officials keep track of overdose deaths

Updated: Dec. 2, 2019 at 5:41 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Jefferson County learned of 5 overdoses in a 24 hour period - Sunday to Monday - one of them fatal. The worrying information was gathered through a new tool health officials are using.

The tool is called ODMAP. It's a database that alerts health officials about overdoses in real time and they're hoping it will help them save lives.

Monday morning, Jefferson County EMS Training Coordinator Christopher Singleton knew there had been a spike in overdoses thanks to ODMAP.

"This is something that we get real time data every single day, literally up to the minute. When someone puts a overdose in, we get notified that there was an incident," he said.

The county started using the program earlier this year. First responders can enter information after responding to an overdose, such as where it happened and what drug they suspect was used. It then gets put onto a map, allowing officials to track overdoses.

"In the past, we really didn't know. We'd have delayed data from hospitals and EDs which would give us a hint but we never had day to day data; it was more monthly data so we're really excited about the potential of this resource," said Jefferson County Public Health Planner Stephen Jennings.

Jennings believes getting the information out to the public will help better educate and prevent death. He says when there are 3 or more reported overdoses, like there were Sunday to Monday, officials will alert the public.

With this recent spike, 4 of the overdoses were in the city of Watertown with the other outside the city. One of them was fatal.

The fatality brings the total number of possible overdose deaths since October up to 11, on top of 6 already confirmed deaths this year. Jennings says there wasn't one particular drug that's suspected to have caused the 5 overdoses, but says the theme is narcotics.

And in the ongoing war against the opioid epidemic, Singleton hopes ODMAP is a tactic that will help.

"I think we were all frustrated because we couldn't do anything and I think now this gives us an opportunity to track it and try to help with solving that problem at the end," he said.

Both Jennings and Singleton say not all first responders are using ODMAP yet, but want all agencies to start using it so they will have the data and can then take action.

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