ODMAP rollout shows real-time surveillance of drug overdoses in Orleans Parish

The digital program collects data about whether the overdose is fatal, what dosage of Narcan is used and a general location.
Published: Oct. 15, 2021 at 4:33 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A new tool can give first responders real-time surveillance of drug overdoses across Orleans Parish. It’s called Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program, or ODMAP, and the district attorney’s office believes it will help ease the opioid crisis.

“We cannot arrest our way out of this problem. And we cannot prosecute our way out of this problem,” said DA Jason Williams. “The fact is, people need help.”

Williams and his team of city and public health leaders announced the rollout of ODMAP on Friday, something that has been in the works for several years. The program will collect data on overdoses, overdose deaths, the location of these calls, and whether the drug Narcan was used to save a life.

“We were leaving a lot of information... just not using it properly,” said Williams. “This is an opportunity for us to be smarter. So this map, although it is lit up and lets us know just how big this problem is, it also specifically tells us where to start and where to work hard.”

The opioid epidemic hit New Orleans hard. According to the DA’s office, in 2016, overdose deaths doubled from 92 to 211. It held steady until 2020 when overdose deaths spiked again.

In 2020, New Orleans saw nearly 365 overdose deaths. Of those, the DA’s office said nearly 78% of them were Fentanyl-related.

“The presence of a dangerous drug fentanyl in our communities is driving up these numbers,” said assistant DA and chief of the narcotics unit Andre Gaudin Jr.

But it’s not just New Orleans-- it’s statewide.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports a 56 percent increase in overdose deaths in Louisiana since the pandemic began with about 2,168 overdose deaths between March 2020 and March 2021.

Williams said this isn’t a problem the city can hope its way out of.

“Simple possession narcotic arrests and felony convictions will not and cannot save the city of New Orleans from its major challenges,” said Williams. “We’ve got to be able to seek solutions in providing adequate mental health services, treatment for those suffering substance use disorder, and addressing the challenges of our homeless population.”

With ODMAP, they are hoping to do just that-- bringing help to those battling addiction and prosecuting those who prey on it.

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