A Vancouver, British Columbia startup is developing a device that drug users can wear on their wrist or finger to prevent drug overdose.
Around 28 people a week died of drug overdose in British Columbia last year, bringing the total to 1,448. The first three months of this year saw that number rise past 30 deaths a week, 91 per cent of them indoors and alone.
Gordon Casey and biomedical engineer Sampath Satti decided to do something about this unnatural deaths so they planned to invent a system that could help drug users from overdosing. Casey poured $50,000 of his earnings into this tech startup aimed at saving lives in the opioid crisis.
“What if there was a local alert system that, when someone is using and an overdose episode occurs, we look at the physiological changes that happen in the human body and elicit a local response?” Casey told StarMetro in an interview.
A team of engineers led by Satti are developing software for the device that is essentially a pulse monitor. With the software the device will be able to calculate users’ breathing rate based on very slight variations in their pulse. If the device detects a slow pattern of breathing it will send an alert, as slowed breathing is one of the first symptoms of an overdose.
“Heart rate does slow down eventually,” Satti said, “but by then it’s too late.”
Once a suspected overdose is detected, the device would alert either health authorities or a network of volunteers to rush to the person’s side and administer Nalaxone, an antidote used to block the effects of opioids, especially in overdose.
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