On Tuesday, the Yadkin County Board of Commissioners approved a participation agreement for EMS with the Overdose Detection Mapping Application.
Chris Bolden, operations manager for Yadkin County Emergency Services, explained the mapping system would allow EMS in the county to be more prepared and see trends in areas where drug overdoses are taking place.
County Manager Lisa Hughes explained the opioid epidemic is what spurred the need for the mapping. She added there was no cost associated with the mapping and it would require very little time for paramedics to input data into the system.
“Every time we get a drug overdose call, we’ll be able to enter some data and put it in this database,” Bolden said. “The biggest thing it does for us is it helps us identify trends.”
Bolden said the number of drug overdoses has spiked in recent years.
Commissioner Kevin Austin, chairman of the county board, said the overdose map was a hot topic of conversation at the recent conference for commissioners from across the state.
“It’s something other agencies have used with a lot of success,” Bolden said.
The data will be compliant with health privacy laws, Bolden added. Law enforcement also will have access to the data.
Bolden said if the mapping system indicates an increase in drug overdoses in the area, it can allow local emergency services to prepare logistically to meet the needs of patients who may experience an overdose, such as by having additional Narcan on hand as well as other needed supplies for those situations. Narcan is a prescription nasal spray meant to be used to reverse an opioid overdose.
The rate of overdoses has increased significantly in Yadkin County. Hughes said that from Jan. 1 of this year to July 17, EMS already had administered Narcan 80 times in the county. There were an additional 78 Narcan administrations given to patients by first responders prior to arrival of EMS. In 2012, there were only 56 total administrations of Narcan, that number grew to 80 for 2013.
Austin said at a recent opioid education event led by Deputy Sharon Diaz of the Yadkin County Sheriff’s Office, it also was discussed that Narcan is available to the general public at a pharmacy. Those who know someone at risk for an opioid overdose were encouraged to have a dose of the medication on hand.
Austin speculated there could be countless incidents where EMS is not ever called after Narcan is administered to overdose victims by a friend or family member. Bolden said that could very well be true. He added that if the opioid was very potent, however, that an initial dose of Narcan may not immediately revive the individual and EMS may be still be called.
Kitsey Burns Harrison may be reached at 336-518-3049 or on Twitter and Instagram @RippleReporterK.