Senate bill requires overdoses to be reported via app

Published: Feb. 26, 2019 at 11:50 PM EST
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The opioid epidemic has devastated West Virginia, but a new technology could help first responders get ahead of the problem with a tool that fits in the palm of your hand, your phone.

Senator William Ihlenfeld worked as a U.S. attorney in Northern West Virginia for six years where he says he spent almost every day on the drug problem.

"Many days I thought how can we do a better job of really getting our arms around the problem,” he said.

He began looking into ways to combat the issue through technology.

"If you can't see the problem then you can't fix the problem,” Ihlenfeld said.

That's when he came across ODMAP, an app that tracks overdoses through reports from hospitals, police officers and emergency responders. Charleston Fire Department is one of the emergency departments that already uses the technology.

"This is a way to leverage technology to tackle the opioid problem,” he said.

Once he got to the Capitol, he began to think about the benefits of it being used statewide.

On Tuesday, the state senate passed a bill that would change the amount of time required to report an overdose from 3 months to 72 hours after the overdose happens.

"It’s important to know what the problem is right now, today," he said.

It would also require a mention of which drug caused the overdose, whether Naloxone or Narcan were used and if the overdose was fatal or not, something that's not currently required.

Since it's used in other states, it will also provide warnings to law enforcement in West Virginia about drugs coming from other areas.

"This is as close to real time as we've ever been to tracking overdoses in West Virginia,” Ihlenfeld said.

The app is also free to use since it’s funded by federal dollars. The bill will now move onto the house for consideration.