Author: Justin Mckibben
Naloxone expansion is something we consistently see as a topic of discussion. Naloxone, or the name-brand Narcan, is an opioid overdose antidote that is in high demand as one of the primary tools in the fight against the ongoing overdose outbreak. Law makers and law enforcement agencies have joined with community organizations and pharmacy companies in trying to provide this medication to more and more people.
New legislation across the U.S. has made access to Naloxone more common than ever. Now, the drive for Naloxone expansion is leading us to another avenue. This is beyond supplying the families of addicts, the addicts themselves and first responders.
Some may remember, back in September, the Food and Drug Administration launched a competition to app developers in the name of improving resources for naloxone expansion. The contest was seeking a mobile app for connecting people experiencing a drug overdose with someone nearby who can administer naloxone. With technology being used to expedite just about everything in our world, it only made sense to use it to help save lives if possible.
The winner of the Naloxone App Competition has been announced this month, and the $40,000 cash prize has been claimed. Their mission: to make it possible for more people to be first responders for opiate overdoses.
The OD Help App
The winning app is the OD Help App, creared by Team PwrdBy, a small start-up in Venice, California. The start-up’s CEO Jared Sheehan says this innovation stems from the idea of making naloxone assistance as available as ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft. With Uber and Lyft drivers being so spread out, the idea is the app could cover a lot more ground and reach more people in the event of opioid overdose.
Sheehan says there’s still a lot of work to be done before the app is made available to the public. To implement this kind of program with Uber or Lyft, it would require reaching out and coordinating with ride-sharing companies. Sheehan stated:
“Is there a way if every Uber driver had a naloxone kit in the back of their car, that you could call someone and they’d be able to come over and administer naloxone?”
So in essence, the idea of the OD Help app would be to be able to alert naloxone carriers of an overdose (OD) and give them the option of being dispatched to help revive someone experiencing the overdose.
Expanding Team PwrdBy Naloxone Plan
According to Sheehan, ride-sharing apps are just one avenue that Team PwrdBy is setting its sights on. The company is also exploring more traditional distribution systems.
One such method Team PwrdBy wants to look to for inspiration for the OD Help app is the AED network, the automated external defibrillators network across schools. The goal is to better comprehend how these programs are funded and distributed. Modeling after an already successful style of expanded access for other emergency medical supplies may be vital to changing the way we expand naloxone access.
All of this is to save as many lives as possible.
How OD Help Works
The OD Help app connects opioid users with a crowd-sourced network of naloxone carriers. Using GPS, it specifically connects someone who may experience an overdose with someone nearby who has access to naloxone. The app is also able to be personalize to the user’s specifications. One feature lets you set it up so in the event of an overdose the app would only alert people in your selected support network. And naloxone carriers can disable alerts if they are not able to respond.
Another feature available with the OD Help app is a breathing monitor. This can be helpful for people who use opioids alone. It gives the app a way to communicate with others when the user can’t. The wearable monitor is able to detect if the individual’s breathing rate is dangerously low, a sign of overdose. In this case the OD Help app automatically alerts a naloxone carrier nearby.
The app also features information on:
- How to correctly identify an overdose
- How to administer naloxone
Another hope is that the app will also inform younger generations about the dangers of opioid abuse, and about overdose prevention. The hope is the app could reach a younger population and make them aware of how to get access to naloxone and how to administer it. Many young people don’t think of pharmacies as a place to get the drug that could save their lives.
Put to Good Use
The truth is, not all people will be able to have access to a consistent supply of naloxone. The drug also doesn’t last forever. For those who would need to have an overdose antidote resource, the OD Help app could be a safe-guard against being completely unprepared for an overdose.
Some people may be embarrassed or have some reservations about personally obtaining naloxone. With the OD Help app they could reach out to someone if they truly needed the help.
If you or someone you loved were overdosing, would it be useful to be able to look on an app and find someone close by with the tools to help? Some people would say you should just call an ambulance, but what if it could get there sooner? Or what if someone is afraid of reporting it? Too many people die for these very reasons, but they shouldn’t have to. Sure, some people may ask if they would let a random citizen administering the antidote. However, some might say any help is worth having.
Then on the other side, would people be willing to come to the rescue if they had the resources? If your phone rang and the OD Help app said someone needed help around the corner, would you? Would you be happy you could?
Something tells me plenty of people would be willing to put this tool to good use.
This writer has said this before; the preservation of all lives should be a responsibility of all who have the ability to help; not just for public health officials, but everyone. As part of that, Palm Partners is dedicated to contributing to the rehabilitation and revolutionary growth possible with holistic treatment for drug and alcohol abuse. If you or anyone you know is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Today technology is constantly innovating our lives, making all types of things in our lives more convenient and more accessible. An app can be a great tool for staying informed, aware and connected. Ride-hailing services apps such as Uber, Lyft and Sidecar show how this side of technology is helping people get around, but now we can take it further by acknowledging how these services are making our streets a safer place.
According to David Plouffe, Uber’s strategy chief who was once President Obama’s campaign manager, services like Uber are having an incredible impact on reducing drunk-driving incidents.
Uber Gets MADD
Uber teamed up with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) to release a new survey where nearly 4 out of 5 respondents said friends were much less likely to drive themselves home after drinking thanks to ride-hailing apps. This new study is almost like the evolution of a study Uber conducted last spring which determined that the presence of Uber ride-sharing services in the Seattle had resulted in a 10% drop in the number of arrests for driving under the influence.
The survey Uber and MADD collaborated on was conducted by Benenson Strategy Group last December using 807 adults in 19 cities where Uber is actively operating. In the survey researchers highlighted the facts such as:
- 57% of transportation app users 21 and older said they would “probably end up driving more after drinking at a bar or restaurant” if ride-hailing options didn’t exist.
- Drunken-driving crashes in California have decreased by 6.5% among drivers under 30 since Uber began offering its UberX service in the state in 2012. That equates to 60 fewer crashes a month, or 1,800 since 2012.
- 2/3 of respondents said they wanted national leaders to do more to keep drunken drivers off the road.
The drop of drunk-driving accidents in California could also be credited to various other factors besides Uber, including increased awareness of the dangers of drunken driving. However the survey strongly suggests the shift could be more likely linked to having ride-hailing services in cities where taxis and public transportation may not be readily available after hours.
Timing is everything too, because the report also noted that in cities such as Miami and Pittsburgh, Uber peaks in business during the late-night hours that tend to have the highest rates of drunken-driving incidents. And in Chicago on New Year’s Eve 3/4 of Uber trips were requested within 200 yards of an establishments serving alcohol.
MADD is Glad to have Uber
Colleen Sheehey-Church is the president of MADD, and is not stranger to the devastation of drunk-driving. Church’s 18 year old son Dustin died at the hands of a driver with alcohol and drugs in her system. To this mother and now advocate for safer streets is up for any way to get the word out about options. When asked about Ubers contribution she stated,
“Safe rides are always within reach now. We’re aiming for a future with no more victims.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 1/3 of the 30,000 driving-related deaths in the United States were drunken driving accidents. That number has been stable since 2009, but actually represents a 50% drop since 1991. So is ride-sharing going to have a hand in dropping that number even more?
Bumps on the Uber Road
It hasn’t all been an easy ride. The company has faced growing criticism for its practices, but some feel that’s to be expected with a new and innovative service. Recently Uber has attempted to counter past missteps, such as:
- Uber initially set surge pricing during a hostage standoff in Sydney, only to make all rides free after being broadsided with negative feedback
- A year ago during a similar storm comedian Jerry Seinfeld’s wife Jessica sent around a photo of her $415 Uber receipt with the hashtag #neveragain, which was attributed to surge pricing during the harsh conditions. On Monday, the company proactively announced it would not allow surge pricing during New York’s battle with an epic blizzard.
So while there have been legitimate points for criticism, Uber has proven it can acknowledge its mistakes and make better on them. Beyond that a number of cities have banned the service simply due to protesting taxi services, but in reality that atomicity is due to the fact Uber is cheaper, easier, and more accessible than those taxi companies.
Uber Getting Results
Releasing the poll prior to Super Bowl Sunday was not mistake, for obvious reasons. Plouffe acknowledged that this time of year and this night especially there will be millions of Americans at parties and at bars for the big game, and this is a time to capitalize on the drunk-driving demographic.
But Uber was insistent on getting results, and not just turning a profit. Plouffee added that Super Bowl Sunday from 3 p.m. to midnight eastern time, Uber would be donating $1 to MADD for every trip taken using Ubers ride-sharing services when customers used the promo code ThinkandRide, with Plouffe making the statement,
“There’s no longer any excuse to drink and drive.”
Plouffe has made a few hints that more such “positive contributions” could be in the works, and added that the partnership with MADD will not be limited to this one poll.
Uber is now launching in smaller cities, trying to target places where most people either had a designated driver or drive home, to be even more present for those who need assistance getting home after a bit of the night-life. Plouffe said,
“This study shows people are changing their behavior, particularly when they’re out having drinks.”
Uber is a force to be reckoned with in this new growing industry of ride-sharing services, and noticeably so as they recently closed a $1.2 billion funding round which values the company at $40 billion. And ambition is in the game-plan while Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has said that his company is set to create 1 million new jobs worldwide this year.
Uber is just one of a handful of apps that have been designed to help reduce the dangers of drinking alcohol. Some seem more effective than others, but at the end of the day any effort put into keeping people safe is not wasted at all.
Stopping drunk driving and alcohol abuse does go beyond the scope of a smartphones capabilities. It takes self-awareness and action to truly provide solutions to these problems. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135