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Texas Officials Using New Mapping Technology to Combat Fentanyl Crisis

Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton at a border security briefing in January. Michael Gonzalez for The Texas Tribune
Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton at a border security briefing in January. Michael Gonzalez for The Texas Tribune

As the fentanyl crisis continues to plague American families, state and local officials in Texas and other parts of America are taking steps to address the problem and prevent future overdoses from occurring.

In places like Dallas, officials have begun mapping out fentanyl overdoses using colorful dots. Speaking to reporters, Lake Travis Fire Chief Robert Abbott said the dots provide data to help individuals and keep neighbors safe. The new efforts by local officials in Texas are called the Overdose Mapping and Application Program (ODMAP) and help identify areas with higher numbers of fentanyl and opioid overdoses.

Texas officials say that the data and information gained from the mapping project have helped officials put boxes of Narcan to reverse opioid overdoses in the right places.

The way the new system works is that agencies enter the overdose areas into the ODMAP, marking where overdoses occur, the fatality, and whether Narcan was given.

When overdoses increase, ODMAP triggers alerts, allowing emergency medical services to call in extra staff to reduce response times and prepare local hospitals for the influx. Treatment professionals can respond to offer help to overdose victims and assist law enforcement officials in finding the source of the drugs.

The system was created in 2017 as Washington and Baltimore saw an increase in opioid overdoses, and officials knew that efforts had to be enacted to address the problem. Many local law enforcement departments in Austin, Houston, and Plano have signed up to use the mapping system, but most cities in the Northern part of Texas have not.

Some Dallas officials are concerned about the new mapping system, fearing that such a database would violate medical privacy laws. In response to such concerns, Texas lawmakers have drafted legislation for Governor Abbott to sign, which shields emergency medical services providers from legal liability.

In Tarrant County, MedStar, the local health organization which serves the county, signed up for the new mapping program but has not been able to participate yet.

The massive increase in opioids has surged under the Biden administration's open-border policies, which have allowed drug cartels from Mexico and other parts of the world to flood the homeland with dangerous synthetic drugs like fentanyl and opioids.

In Congress, lawmakers have called on the administration to address the ongoing crisis at the southern border and have called on Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to resign for his inaction on the situation.

Related Story: Operation Lone Star Officers Seize 3.1 Million Doses of Fentanyl in Single Stop

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