This group project aimed to tackle opioid overdose response in the context of public bathrooms. Myself and two others looked to address accessibility of Narcan (a nasal spray counteractive of the effects of an opioid overdose), the education of its use, and teaching the public about (and de-stigmatizing) the ongoing crisis.
Opioid addiction is a growing problem throughout North America. Prescription painkillers have become highly addictive, and anyone can find themselves facing a serious problem. Overdoses are occurring with greater frequency. Taking large doses of the drugs can result in respiratory failure leading to loss of conscious. If the victim is left untreated for more than five minutes, death is almost guaranteed.
Narcan, a naloxone nasal spray, aims to combat opioid overdose. If used in time, it is almost entirely effective in reviving an overdose victim. It is not harmful in any way, even if used on someone who has not taken opioids. This is a tool fully capable of saving lives. Our goal was to get it into capable hands in the right moment.
We saw immense opportunity for addressing this problem in public bathrooms. The quiet, secluded environments are attractive places for drug use. It is hard to imagine that every overdose victim can be found in time. However, there is always a chance that a bystander will identify the problem. Through education and preparedness, we hope to transform bystanders into response personnel.
Our system relies on three main components:
A poster calls attention to the crisis and inspires greater conversation on the issue.
A pamphlet acts as a resource for anyone who wishes to learn more about the crisis. It features facts about addiction and ways to identify an overdose. Our goal is to increase awareness and preparedness for an overdose scenario.
Finally, our response kit acts as a physical means for action. This container, similar to AED or first-aid kits, is a wall-mounted emergency response portal. The exterior of the box and transparent window call out the context and use of the device. When confronted with a suspected overdose, a user will be prompted to flip open the external handle. They will then pull down on the front panel, which dislodges at 45°. At the point of opening, the box will contact emergency services for situational aid. The interior of the box also contains backup Narcan units, and a radio for audio assistance. The dislodged panel then becomes a portable treatment kit. It contains two Narcan units and simple instructions for use. The user will take this panel to the victim and attempt to revive them.
This system, if utilized properly, has the potential to save lives. We hope to foster discussions on the crisis, and prepare communities for action. We hope to contribute to a culture that accepts this as a serious but solvable problem.