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The map shows use of the overdose-reversing drug as reported by EMS responders, beginning in 2014.
First responders have used naloxone to reverse opioid overdoses in most of Indiana’s 92 counties, from rural corners of the state to urban centers like Indianapolis, according to a new mapping tool from the Indiana Commission to Combat Drug Abuse.
The interactive “heat-mapping” tool shows clusters of naloxone administrations as reported by EMS responders in a given period of time, ranging from the last 30 days to the last four years. Not every naloxone usage is an overdose, according to the commission, but “preliminary analysis indicates” that approximately 75 percent of administrations of the drug are to treat overdoses.
Users can enter a specific address to view “incident location markers,” which cloak exact locations for privacy. In densely populated urban areas, locations where naloxone administrations occurred are represented within 100 meters. In moderately populated areas, it’s 300 meters, and in rural parts of the state, the buffer is 500 meters. When several incidents occur at the same location, each is moved slightly so the dots don’t appear on top of each other.
About 15 percent of “naloxone incidents” have not been added to the map because the address was poorly formatted or missing, according to the website.
“Naloxone is a proven life-saver,” Jim McClelland, Indiana’s executive director for Drug Prevention, Treatment and Enforcement, said in a statement. “This map gives first responders a visual asset to help them deploy resources more efficiently. It’s one more tool we can use to attack the drug epidemic and promote recovery—an important focus of Gov. Eric Holcomb’s administration.”
Overdoses occur when opioids attach to receptors in the brain, sending signals that slow breathing, block pain and have a general calming and antidepressant effect. Because the drugs affect parts of the brain that control breathing, high doses can cause respiratory distress and, in some cases, death. Naloxone reverses the overdose by blocking the opioids. It can’t be used to get high and won’t harm a person who is not experiencing an overdose.
First responders across the country routinely carry and administer naloxone, and other community organizations, including libraries, have begun distributing it as well. The map is additional tool that can help emergency personnel better target their strategies to combat the opioid crisis, said Michael Kaufmann, the state’s EMS medical director.
“As we continue to battle the opioid epidemic from all angles, this new tool will both inform our first responders and help identify general locations that have seen an increase in naloxone delivery,” Kaufmann said in a statement.
Indiana’s map was developed via a partnership between the Indiana Management Performance Hub and the Indiana Department of Homeland Security. EMS data is sent by providers to the state’s homeland security database, which is then analyzed by the management performance hub.
Kate Elizabeth Queram is a Staff Correspondent for Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.