Hennepin County first responders roll out new tool to track overdoses

- The Hennepin County Sheriff's Office is hoping a new tool will help them combat the opioid epidemic. 

It's called OD MAP. Officials are hoping it can give officers a quicker way to identify problem areas.

In Hennepin County, there has been 65 percent increase in opioid overdose deaths over the last two years; sometimes several die in one area. 

“Sometimes we learn about a cluster of overdoses or a bad batch of narcotics during a meeting with one another or maybe in a news story, but by then it’s often too late and results in tragic consequences for individuals,” said Hennepin County Rich Stanek.

Sheriff Stanek believes OD MAP can help change that. In the tool, first responders can enter the location of the overdose, if the victim survived or died and if Narcan was administered. The information is then immediately shared, creating up to the minute data of suspected overdoses across numerous jurisdictions. 

“With the addition of a real-time snapshot, I believe first responders can curb opioid overdoses before the 911 call is ever made,” said Sheriff Stanek.

When the info is entered, it immediately pops up on a map. Authorities can then identify hot spots or problem areas faster. It is not a tool to make arrests, but rather save lives.

“This is not an investigative tool as no personal identifying information is collected,” said Sheriff Stanek. “But it’s a prevention and education tool, it allows us to focus our drug prevention outreach in areas that are being affected the worst by this epidemic.”

To be most effective, multiple agencies need to be on board. Leaders at the Minneapolis Fire Department believes OD MAP will help them. Assistant Fire Chief Bryan Tyner says they’ve administered 800 doses of Narcan in just two years.

“With this new tool, if we can get a better idea of where these things are happening in the city and in the county, we think we can be even more effective in saving these lives,” said Assistant Chief Tyner.

Right now, just a handful of agencies are participating, but the sheriff is hoping to get as many as possible using the OD MAP.

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