An app to help prevent fatal overdoses for people using drugs alone at home is now available to people across Alberta.
The Digital Overdose Response System (DORS), which has been expanded to Alberta Health Services Central and North Zones, is a confidential, anonymous app that dispatches emergency medical services if a user becomes unresponsive.
A person using the app will receive a call from the STARS emergency centre if they fail to respond to a timer. If an overdose is suspected, STARS will immediately dispatch an ambulance to the person’s location.
“More than 70 per cent of opioid-related fatalities happen at home. If you are in Alberta, use the DORS app when using opioids and other substances, especially when using alone,” said Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Mike Ellis in a statement.
To date, DORS has seen over 900 downloads, over 440 registered users, hundreds of unique sessions, and numerous successful emergency medical services dispatches.
The province is also engaging with First Nations and Métis leadership to expand access to DORS to Indigenous communities.
The latest statistics show March was one of Red Deer’s most deadly overdose months since 2018 with seven drug poisoning deaths.
“Addiction and overdose have taken the lives of far too many in Red Deer, some of whom dying at home, alone,” said Mayor Ken Johnston.
“We are grateful to the Government of Alberta for making this available to our community, and I encourage anyone who may be using alone to download the app, and seek recovery when possible.”
This summer, the province will be launching an ad campaign to raise awareness about DORS.
Lori Sigurdson, NDP critic for mental health and addictions, called the DORS app a useful tool, but it does not do nearly enough to address Alberta’s horrifying death toll.
“There are proven healthcare interventions that save lives, but the UCP have reduced access to them,” Sigurdson said in a statement.
“The UCP failure to properly respond to this crisis is costing lives, costing taxpayers, and using up already scarce resources in our ambulance and hospital systems.”
DORS is free and can be downloaded to any smartphone from the Google Play or Apple app stores. More information about the app can be found on dorsapp.ca.