Medical trials are now underway at Island Health, to support staff by using technology to alert of potential drug overdoses occurring in public washrooms.
These trials involve the installation of motion detection sensors that monitor movement as well as the duration of time a person has occupied the washroom.
Island Health has partnered with Brave Co-Op, a Vancouver-based company that designed and supplies the sensors. This collaboration marks the first installation of their sensors on the island.
“The trials have already likely led to a life being saved, thanks to an Island Health staff member who attended to an unresponsive person in one of the washrooms after being alerted by the sensor system,” said Island Health in a press release.
On February 28th, a coffee shop in Langford was closed for several hours after a woman locked herself in a bathroom and was unresponsive to staff.
West Shore RCMP responded to the scene and quickly administered two doses of Naloxone to the woman who was found slumped over a toilet with a faint pulse.
The woman was monitored by police until paramedics arrived and transported her to the hospital for further treatment.
According to Island Health, the addition of these motion sensors sets time limits based on the experience and needs of its users.
“If a washroom occupant hasn’t moved for a minute, or has been in the washroom for 10 minutes, a notification is sent via text to designated responders such as clinicians, site supervisors and administrative staff who then follow up,” said Island Health in a press release.
The project, which began in the fall of 2021, involved input from Island Health medical health officers, managers, clinicians and two peer advisors.
The first trials began in October of last year at the Mental Health and Substance Use services site in Courtenay and the Comox Valley Nursing Centre, with an additional three-month trial launching at the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital (NRGH) this month.
“We know that the shame and stigma of addictions have driven people to use alone – but given the increasingly toxic drug supply, using alone can be fatal. These trials by Island Health are another action to save lives and better support staff,” says Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions.
With the introduction of overdose prevention motion sensors at the NRGH, what are your thoughts on this new technology being installed in washrooms?