ODMAP: The more you know

Dec. 30, 2019

Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program graphic with charts and a smartphone

Whether you learned it in school or in life, you probably know that the first step of problem-solving is actually defining what the problem is. And the more complicated the problem, the more information you have to gather to define it. Various organizations and agencies in Minnesota, for example, are working to solve the problem of fatal drug overdoses and the influx of illicit narcotics, and now they have a tool to help them gather the information they need.

It’s a software application called Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program (ODMAP), and it can be used on any mobile device, tablet or laptop. It’s used to track overdoses and administrations of Naloxone – that’s the medication that can help reverse the effects of opioid drug overdoses, which is most commonly referred to by the name brand Narcan. Minnesota law enforcement started using ODMAP in February of this year, and as other first responders and public health agencies get on board, it’s provided a more and more comprehensive picture of the devastating effects of illicit drug use in Minnesota.

Essentially, first responders and other ODMAP users enter in the location of fatal and non-fatal drug overdoses, as well as incidents where Naloxone was administered. ODMAP then maps and tracks that data. It creates a clearer picture of which areas need to have immediate response available. In other words, ODMAP helps health and public safety organizations improve their support of drug prevention and response.

The numbers show 89 Minnesota agencies were participating with ODMAP in April, and that number grew to 155 in November. There are still many areas not signed up, however. Even so, a look at just one month (June) shows 378 suspected overdoses, 25 fatal overdoses, and 133 Naloxone administrations. Alarming, especially when you consider that this doesn't yet provide a picture of the entire state.

It is encouraging to know that more Minnesota agencies are signing up for ODMAP every month. That’s reflective of the state’s growing effort in the area of narcotics investigations, prevention, and response. Personnel from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) have been traveling across Minnesota to talk to law enforcement, EMS and public health organizations about ODMAP and to encourage its use. In fact, the Minnesota Department of Health has received a federal grant of $750,000 from the Bureau of Justice Assistance and the Centers for Disease Control. It’s called the ODMAP Statewide Expansion and Response Grant, and its objectives are exactly what you’d think: to improve opioid response infrastructure and to help get at least 80 percent of the state on board to use ODMAP.

One good start to solving a problem is to gather as much information about it as possible. When the problem is opioid drugs, ODMAP is helping Minnesota do just that. The more we know, the better equipped we’ll be to help.