CCSO First In Fla. To Map Heroin ODs In Real Time
Collier County Sheriff's Office
Deputies are using software developed by a federal agency to create a real-time map where drug overdoses are occurring in Collier County in an effort to pinpoint locations and trends.
The Collier County Sheriff’s Office is the first agency in Florida to use the Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program (ODMAP). The program was developed by the federal Office of National Drug Control Policy High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program.
CCSO is using it solely to track suspected heroin overdoses.
“In addition to the Collier County Heroin Task Force which began in 2015, we are now implementing technology to provide real-time data for determining trends necessary for short- and long-term operational planning,” Sheriff Kevin Rambosk said. “More importantly, it will alert law enforcement and public safety officials to overdose spikes caused by a bad batch of drugs, or a new and growing supply of drugs entering our community.”
Every time deputies respond to a suspected heroin overdose, they enter information collected into a database via computer or a mobile device. The information immediately pops up on an electronic map with color-coded dots indicating a general location where the victim overdosed, whether the overdose was fatal and whether Narcan, the drug that revives individuals after an overdose, was administered.
The map shows where the hot spots are, thus allowing deputies and first responders to mobilize resources to those areas of concern.
“If you can’t see it, you can’t stop it,” Sheriff Rambosk said.
CCSO has mapped 40 suspected heroin overdoses, including four that were fatal, since April 14 when the agency went live with the program. The figure, however, represents only the overdoses that CCSO deputies responded to.
“We’re only responding to a fraction of the overdoses and we need other entities to get on board with us to give us a more complete picture,’’ said Vice and Narcotics Bureau Sgt. Gary Gambino.
CCSO is one of 90 agencies in the U.S. and the only one in Florida currently using the program, said Jeff Beeson, deputy director of the Washington/Baltimore HIDTA, which operates the program.
A new law set to take effect in Florida on Oct 1 creates guidelines for EMS to report drug overdoses to the state Department of Health and provides immunity for persons who make reports in good faith. It also requires hospital emergency departments to develop policies to promote the prevention of unintentional drug overdoses.
“Working together to track heroin overdoses in Collier County makes sense,” said Debbie Curry, spokeswoman for the NCH Healthcare System. “This is a national issue and although the number of cases at our hospitals is minimal, we are happy to participate in this new tracking process which should provide additional data and insight into this growing problem.”
Collier EMS will begin mapping overdoses in October, said EMS Chief Tabatha Butcher. It is important to track where overdoses are happening for EMS for several reasons, she said.
“One reason is for safety,” Chief Butcher said. “If we know where there is a large number of overdoses, then our paramedics and emergency medical technicians can be aware of their surroundings and ensure they take the proper precautions.”
Knowing the types of drugs that are in certain areas is also important. There are drugs out now that can be absorbed through skin contact which could pose a risk for first responders, she said.
Chief Butcher said knowing that a certain area has drug problems could help paramedics stock certain ambulances with more Narcan so they are prepared, if needed. EMS may also target these areas for training family members of substance abusers on the use of Narcan and where to get it.