The North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit is introducing a new way to track overdoses.

It’s a real-time Overdose Alert System. The health unit says the reporting system collects information about ODs and other negative drug reactions reported by agencies that respond to a situation or that hear of an overdose through their clients.

Right now there is no system in place locally to collect that data in real-time. The health unit says that makes it difficult for it to build a detailed understanding of local drug patterns.

Agencies that currently give naloxone to their clients and other “key stakeholders” in the community will be able to anonymously report ODs through the online system. The health unit will then be able to examine that information to identify surges or abnormalities that may result in a community alert.

“An alert will be shared with community partners, EMS, police services, fire departments, and other stakeholders with the goal that a more comprehensive understanding of overdoses and negative drug reactions will inform service delivery and reduce the number of drug-related harms,” explains Auburn Larose, Epidemiologist.

Aggregate data will be shared weekly with all organizations that provide naloxone kits and members of the Parry Sound Drug Strategy.

“We’re excited to participate in this new data system. The collection of overdose and negative drug reaction data will assist our paramedics by helping us understand what drugs are out there,” said Guy Harris from Parry Sound District Emergency Medical Services.

The new system is based on one that’s used by Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health. That was developed through the Opioid Data Challenge that was led by a MaRS Discovery District and Public Health Agency of Canada partnership. The challenge asked Canadians to come up with innovative ways of using data to better understand and respond to the opioid epidemic.

The Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph system was chosen as one of the five finalists from the challenge’s first phase. Phase two involves extending and testing the system in other communities. Parry Sound District is one of the communities selected for this project. The phase two pilot will run throughout the summer and may develop into a permanent system depending on its success locally.

It launches on May 27th.