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Vigilantidote is an SMS, or group texting service, with the mission to reduce deaths from opioid overdose by increasing access to naloxone through a community emergency response network. Grant and Winifred developed this texting service in January 2017 in an effort to reduce deaths due to opioid/heroin overdose while combating the current opioid crisis in Philadelphia. Overdose deaths in Philadelphia rose from 700 in 2015 to over 900 in 2016,1 of which more than 80% were due to opioid intoxication. 34.1% of ambulances in Philadelphia have delayed response times, taking longer than 9 minutes to arrive. Vigilantidote connects community members to naloxone carriers trained in naloxone administration and potentially revival a victim in overdose emergencies. Information including a respondents name, cell number, date of training, and date/time/location which he/she administers the life-saving naloxone spray in a suspected opioid overdose, will be collected and maintained in a database managed by Grant Kot. Vigilantidote seeks to re-connect people (students and community members) with one another using the technology that often isolates us. Technology and education about opioid overdose reversal will allow students to prevent overdose deaths in PA while bringing a greater sense of empowerment to communities suffering from the opioid epidemic.
This project is an effort to develop innovative solutions to connecting naloxone trained individuals to persons experiencing an opioid overdose. In 2016, the FDA sponsored a naloxone App competition to develop a simple, user-friendly mobile app designed to connect potential opioid overdose victims. The developers of Vigilantidote think that an SMS texting service will increase access to naloxone by engaging a greater number of individuals. It allows for smart phone and flip phone carriers, is simpler for the user, and is less expensive to manage than an app. Vigilantidote will also alerts local EMS services, and provide useful instructions on how to correctly recognize an overdose as well as how to administer naloxone until EMS arrives.
The Vigilantidote program may be implemented in other cities with community emergency response services and naloxone training sites that have already been established. For the past several months, Vigilantidote Co-Founders have assisted naloxone training events run by Elvis Rosado, the Education and Outreach Coordinator at Prevention Point Philadelphia. By integrating Vigilantidote into training events, the organization seeks to build a large network of Vigilantidote rescuers–trained naloxone carriers–who can respond to overdose emergencies in various locations. While most of Vigilantidote’s efforts have focused in Kensington (Zip Code: 19134), where there is a highly concentrated number of opioid overdoses, Vigilantidote seeks to incorporate into naloxone training events across North Philadelphia. As the organization expands, we expect Vigilantidote’s network of responders to grow beyond Philadelphia, so this service may be provided to other major cities.
The goal of the project to create a successful opioid overdose emergency texting service have been met, but the long-term plan is to expand the service to the rest of the state. With a Vigilantidote Student Chapter at Drexel University College of Medicine, the student led campus organization will continue to work with local training centers and continue to recruit student rescuers by hosting more training events. Additionally, the creators of the service are attempting to file as a 501c3 nonprofit to apply for more grants to meet technology cost demands as more users sign-up as rescuers as well as re-hire a project coordinator to network at other campuses and local community events.
The simplicity of a text based SMS technology enables a broad range of cell-phone users to participate. In lower socioeconomic areas, individuals with flip phones may have access to the emergency group text line just the same as more affluent communities. Also, cities may already be developing opioid related smartphone apps. Vigilantidote may be incorporated into these apps so traditional flip-phone users can connect with smart-phone users in the same, socioeconomically diverse community. Currently, the Vigilantidote text line serves members of the Kensington area of North Philadelphia. As the service expands, the company plans on establishing separate group text lines for different cities.
The Vigilantidote program has assessed the feasibility of an emergency texting service in Philadelphia with an anonymous survey distributed to 66 clients at a naloxone training facility (Prevention Point Philadelphia). 89% of survey participants responded saying they would text Vigilantidote during an overdose. 73% of survey participants report that they use opioids with someone who has a cell phone with a texting plan. This data illustrates that a significant majority of individuals in this community have access to Vigilantidote, and that they would use it. With 22 rescuers already registered, this technology has already facilitated a successful overdose incident in the Philadelphia community. Two Vigilantidote rescuers responded to an emergency text within two minutes. One responder arrived at the location within nine minutes prepared to revive the overdosed individual with naloxone. This incident demonstrated that Vigilantidote has immense potential to save lives and empower communities affected by the opioid epidemic