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Jefferson County uses software system to track overdoses as 5 occur in 24 hours


There were five overdoses in Jefferson County in a 24-hour period from Sunday to Monday morning and one person died. Opioids are suspected to be the cause of the overdoses. First responders are now using a software system that allows the county’s health department to track the overdoses in real time.

Stephen Jennings, the public health planner with the Jefferson County Public Health Service, said Monday was the first time they were able to issue an overdose alert to the public using the ODMAP system.

“We’ve been tracking hospital and ED data and we do report that," Jennings said. "Occasionally, we try to educate the public, but never in real time. ODMAP is giving us the power to do that. We knew within 24 hours if it happened, and we could tell the community. You can’t confirm what the drug is, but you can report what the suspicion is.”

Jennings said fentanyl, heroin and oxycodone were suspected in the recent overdoses.

The ODMAP is used by paramedics and police, who enter basic information into the system like location, date, time and suspected drugs.  

“Not every first responding agency is using ODMAP, although they can," Jennings said. "We are highly encouraging them to do so.”

Of the six overdose deaths in Jefferson County so far this year, all were from opiates, which is another first for the county. But there are an additional 11 possible overdose deaths since October. The total number could climb to 17, pending toxicology reports.

Oneida County first responders are also using the ODMAP system, which reported more than 20 overdoses and four deaths in a 15-day time period last month. 

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.