The Stop Overdose Now Foundation is developing a suite of mobile tools to digitally empower the response to the opioid overdose epidemic. It’s core application is OD Buster, a community based overdose response networking app.
At the recent International Harm Reduction Conference in Porto, Portugal, Drugreporter interviewed Jean-Paul Grund and Luke Slater, the director and the software programmer of Stop Overdose Now. In the video, they explain how OD Buster works.
The present response to acute opioid overdose, if existent, is designed around the availability of the antidote naloxone. Take Home Naloxone (THN) programs provide people who drugs (PWUD) with naloxone and training in overdose management. This peer-to-peer approach to overdose prevention is modelled after secondary syringe distribution, an inclusive and evidence-based HIV prevention strategy that relies on existing mechanisms of peer support and the assumption that people will prefer using new syringes over used ones, if these are available when and where they are injecting.
But whether volunteer first responders once trained and equipped with naloxone, will actually deploy the naloxone distributed is uncertain. Opioids are often used in privacy and most overdose deaths occur when people use alone and disconnected. Equally important is that the current response to overdose is characterized by 20th century communication infrastructures and tools, which do not facilitate rapid and accurately coordinated responses to acute overdose and obstructs learning from the accrued experience of the response to opioid overdose. Thus, an effective 21st century deployment strategy towards optimal use of the investments in naloxone distribution and training is missing.
OD Buster is a new community based overdose response networking app that connects people in need of assistance with an overdose with trained volunteers in possession of naloxone in the vicinity in real time, using GPS, Wi-Fi and other data technology. In case of an overdose in progress, the app will alert nearby volunteers and direct them to the person’s location to administer the life-saving antidote. Nearby volunteers will typically arrive before the ambulance and those extra minutes could mean the difference between life and death.
App users can build private overdose response networks (of e.g. drug using peers, family or friends) and overdose prevention programs can use it to develop and coordinate larger volunteer networks. The accumulating database will be subjected to spatio-temporal data analysis resulting in real time information on overdose emergencies and generate forecasts of the risk of overdose in specific areas and times, which will increase in accuracy as more people use the App.
OD Buster is being developed stepwise in close collaboration with the affected communities of people who use opioids, activists and key researchers.