Two years after launching in BC
, the Lifeguard App continues to save lives amid the ongoing toxic drug crisis.
The Lifeguard App was developed to protect people who use illicit drugs alone. The app’s timer automatically alerts BCEHS 9-1-1 dispatchers when the person is unresponsive and unable to turn off the alarm in the event of an overdose. When the app notifies BCEHS, it not only gives the calling party’s address, but also provides the location of where the person is at the address.
The app is increasingly being used across the province. As of May 2022, there were a total of 8,989 unique Lifeguard App users, and 102,538 sessions. The Lifeguard App prompted 130 emergency responder calls and overall, 45 lives have been saved since the app’s inception, which includes 27 lives saved since May 20, 2020 and 18 during a trial period before the app became publicly available.
“While we would always prefer people not use illicit drugs alone, we know that’s not always possible,” says paramedic specialist Brian Twaites. “That’s why we continue to encourage people to download and use the Lifeguard App.”
The app also provides instructions to administer overdose-reversing naloxone and CPR so a person nearby can step in and assist before paramedics arrive. Other features include bad drug alerts, nearby services such as supervised consumption sites, as well as direct links to crisis and suicide lines.
“BC Ambulance paramedics and their firefighter first responder partners are often first on the scene when people overdose alone, and they see the devastating impact of the toxic drug supply. Every minute counts in saving lives and building in more features can make the difference between life and death,” says BCEHS chief operating officer and Lifeguard App project lead, Neil Lilley.
CEO of Lifeguard Digital Health, Jeff Hardy, says, “It’s been an honour to partner with BCEHS and meet so many everyday heroes. There is no easy solution to the toxic drug crisis, but we are hopeful that Lifeguard Digital Health can improve the safety and well-being of communities, by saving lives and connecting people with mental health treatments and services.”
The app is currently being customized for use in the construction and trades industry. Lifeguard Digital Health says it will soon be launching several new features, including an anonymous peer-to-peer chat feature to connect people going through similar issues so they can support each other.