New overdose prevention app available in Interior Health region | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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New overdose prevention app available in Interior Health region

The Provincial Health Services Authority has launched a new app aimed at preventing those who use illicit drugs while by themselves from overdosing.

“The launch of this new resource couldn’t have come at a better time,” Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy said in a news release. “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, when and where they need them."

"Knowing the majority of people who use drugs use alone in shelters, hotels or at home, in addition to the challenges of physical distancing, the Lifeguard App is a new and innovative approach that can directly link people to emergency responders if an overdose does occur," she said.

The app is activated by the user before they take their dose. After 50 seconds the app will sound an alarm. If the user doesn’t hit a button to stop the alarm, indicating they are fine, the alarm grows louder. After 75 seconds a text-to-voice call will go straight to 9-1-1, alerting emergency medical dispatchers of a potential overdose, the ministry said.

Interior Health had the second-highest rate of overdoses deaths out of any health authority in the province in 2020, according to data collected from January to April.

The app is being launched in regional health authorities in a phased approach between now and early June and is available in the Interior Health region as of today, May 25.

READ MORE: Overdoses 'sadly normalized' in British Columbia: addictions minister

The Provincial Health Services Authority, B.C. Emergency Health Services, Vancouver Coastal Health, Overdose Emergency Response Centre and other regional health authorities have been working with Lifeguard Health for the (past two years) to test and pilot the app.

The Lifeguard App can be downloaded at both the App Store here and Google Play here.

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