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B.C. unveils app to prevent overdose deaths

Last Updated May 20, 2020 at 7:06 pm PDT

Summary

A new phone app may prevent overdose deaths

The application asks drug users to login before taking their dose

The app will be available in the Vancouver Coastal Health, Fraser Health region early June

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — The province is launching a new app designed to prevent overdose deaths.

‘LifeGuard’ is a new app that asks drug users to login before they take a dose.

When the app is activated in 50 seconds, the app will sound an alarm and users will need to hit stop or indicate they are OK. The signal will grow louder in time, but after 75 seconds, the phone will immediately alert emergency medical dispatches of a potential overdose when the dispatchers receive a text-to-voice call to 9-1-1.

“So its another tool in our toolbox to save lives as the drug supply on our streets is becoming increasingly toxic, and we know the majority die because they are using drugs alone,” Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy says.

The app as been in the works for the past two years, but Darcy says, while it was not created in light of COVID-19, it will surely help.

“The drugs on the street are even more toxic, and people are now isolating, it wasn’t developed for this purpose of physical distancing, but the timing of it is important,” she explains.

Overdose Prevention Society’s Sarah Blyth adds, “We need these types of apps to save lives in the middle of a crisis.”

Blyth tells CityNews she is welcoming the idea of the app, but she says safe supply is the best way to reduce overdose deaths drastically.

“You know safe supply is being rolled out and unfortunately there are a few barriers to rolling it out as quickly as we like, but there are barriers and as we wait people are dying I saw a poster of someone I knew who died this morning, so any kind of help and any life saved is so important,” she says.

The app is currently available on Vancouver Island.

It will be live in the Vancouver Coastal Health region on June 1 and in the Fraser Health region on June 8.

“We are still losing people, and if this saves lives, then we are winning,” Blyth says.