ORCA app tells you where you can find naloxone in Calgary

File,. Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press

A Calgary man has developed an app that uses government data to pinpoint all the locations in the city where you can find free naloxone kits.

Re Carlson said he developed the app, called ORCA (Overdose Response and Community Access), after an associate of his lost her son to a fentanyl overdose.

“Before this happened, I didn’t even know what a naloxone kit was and I didn’t really know much about the fentanyl crisis in general, but I felt compelled to find a solution,” he said.

LISTEN: Calgary man develops app that maps out locations of free naloxone kits 

READ MORE: First responders grapple to protect themselves against Alberta fentanyl crisis

Carlson said Thursday that in addition to a map that lets users know where they can find a free naloxone kit based on their location, Calgarians can also use the app to find educational materials on how to recognize an opioid overdose and how to talk to loved ones who they suspect may be using drugs like fentanyl.

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Carlson cautions that the app is not meant to be used in an emergency and is not meant to replace the documentation that comes with naloxone kits.

Leslie Hill, executive director at HIV Community Link, told News Talk 770’s Angela Kokott that having information about naloxone kits at your fingertips could make a huge difference in a city that’s currently dealing with an opioid crisis.

LISTEN: The opioid crisis in Alberta 

READ MORE: 241 fentanyl-related deaths in Alberta in first half of 2017

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A report released in August said there have been 241 deaths related to fentanyl in Alberta in the first half of 2017.

Hill said naloxone kits can be picked up at pharmacies, walk-in centres and health centres, and harm-reduction organizations across the province.

She said it is used similarly to an EpiPen, with the administrator drawing the medication from a vial and then injecting it into a muscle in the thigh.

Hill said a nasal spray is also available, though it is not free and is less widely available than the inter-muscular option.

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Carlson said he developed the app because he wants Calgarians to know how easy it is to get access to a naloxone kit.

“If they don’t know that they’re free and that going and asking for one isn’t really a big deal, then lots of these kits could potentially be sitting on shelves and reach their expiry dates,” he said.

He still has a few kinks to work out but hopes to have the app ready for download by the end of October.

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