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Kitsap police department using app to track overdoses

File photo. (AP)

A police department in Kitsap County is the first to use an overdose tracking app and is trying to get other first responders to follow its lead to save lives.

“We’re trying to save innocent people, we’re trying to save people that have addiction issues, we’re trying to save children, we’re trying to save our K-9 dogs,” said Suquamish Police Chief Mike Lasnier. “It would be silly not to use every tool to do that.”

The free application is called ODMAP — Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program. It’s been used by several police departments on the East Coast with encouraging results but hasn’t made its way to the Northwest until now.

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Lasnier says, so far, only his department uses it in Washington state. He is encouraging all Western Washington first responders to download ODMAP so his department can see when a new wave of overdoses is heading their way.

“I would be able to start seeing the overdoses in Yakima as they occurred, and then we’d see overdoses occurring, perhaps, in Tacoma,” Chief Lasnier said. “And that would be a warning to all us over here that, hey, it looks like it’s heading this way and give us an opportunity to get word out on the street.”

“Most folks in Washington aren’t aware of it yet,” he said. “That’s the only reason we haven’t had more people sign up. So I’m taking it by the horns and trying to get the word out that this was very easy, this is completely free … and this is the best available up-to-the-second intelligence information that we can get our hands on.”

First responders can use the ODMAP app on their smartphones. When they encounter an overdose, they log it in the app including where it happened, how much naloxone was administered, and whether the overdose was from heroin, fentanyl or something else. The collective data is then used by the app to indicate bad batches of heroin or other drugs. It can also map overdose spikes in a geographic area. Officials can then use the information to prevent or mitigate overdose incidents coming their way.

In the past, without an app, cops have noticed when bad batches of drugs hit the streets after the fact. The Seattle Police Department noted a cluster of overdoses earlier this year and reached out to known addicts to warn them of the danger after four people died.

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