VANCOUVER, B.C. – The Lifeguard App that was released back in June 2020 has now been updated to include new life-saving features for those who use drugs while alone and could overdose.

Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, Judy Darcy, says, “We continue to escalate our response to save more lives in the face of a drug supply on the streets that is more toxic and dangerous than ever before. This latest version of the app includes several important new features to meet the unique needs of people using the app and help prevent more tragic overdose deaths.”

After receiving feedback from experts in the field, the Lifeguard App now includes options such as extending the alarm time from one minute to five minutes. Initially, the app was activated by the user before taking their first dose, and after 50 seconds, the app will sound an alarm. If the user doesn’t hit a button, the alarm will grow louder, and after 75 seconds, a text to voice call goes straight to 9-1-1, alerting medical dispatchers of a potential overdose.

Along with this change, there are now additional features like links to 811 for medical advice, Suicide Line, and a crisis line so the user can talk to someone if they’re feeling overwhelmed.

Should the alarm go to the activation screen, it usually means the user is unresponsive and unable to turn off the alarm. The app now has “SAVE ME” steps, which include CPR instructions as well as the name of the user and the drug they took, so if someone is nearby, they can step in and assist before an ambulance arrives.

By mid-August, 1,700 people have used the lifeguard App, and there have been 5,200 app sessions. Out of those sessions, a 9-1-1 call to BCEHS dispatchers occurred at least 12 times.