DDN_March_2024 DDN March 2024 | Page 16



NaloFly is a brand-new app that enables peer-to-peer delivery of naloxone in the event of an overdose . DDN hears from the people who ’ ve developed it

‘ W hen I phone an ambulance , if say “ heart attack ” I can get one out in four minutes ,’ says Derek Monaghan . ‘ If I say “ overdose ” I could be waiting an hour .’

Monaghan works for ScotRail at Glasgow Central station , where there are ‘ quite a large number of overdoses and suspected overdoses ’, he says . This is what gave him the idea for NaloFly , a new app designed to enable peer-to-peer delivery of naloxone when needed .
The app enables people to get hold of naloxone by alerting a registered responder – someone nearby who ’ s carrying it . ‘ I talk to people who carry naloxone and are trained in it but say they hardly ever use it – because they don ’ t know there ’ s an overdose happening ,’ he says . ‘ You ’ re carrying it for a reason – you want to save a life – so now there ’ s an app to alert you if someone is having an overdose in the vicinity .’
Monaghan developed the app , while the tech side is handled by Lewis Gianello , a physics student at Glasgow University . The two originally met when they partnered on a proposal for a suicide prevention app , and are using some of the same principles for NaloFly . ‘ If someone presses that button
we ’ re alerting the people who carry it to say “ you ’ re nearest ”. And when someone calls for help it automatically contacts 999 as well ,’ says Monaghan . In the event of a suspected overdose , the app will choose the nearest live carrier who will receive an alert to say help is needed . When they accept they ’ re instructed by GPS to make their way by foot , bike or vehicle .
Development began in 2020 , and while the Scottish Government has been supportive there ’ s so far been no official funding . ‘ We ’ d love to get some investment so we ’ re looking to the private sector to develop the next stages ,’ says Monaghan . ‘ There are about three or four phases in all , but we need to build a team to make that happen .’
An Android version was successfully trialled in Glasgow and provided invaluable feedback , says Monaghan , with ‘ medical staff , people in the street teams telling us what they liked and didn ’ t like .’
One subject of early discussion was the option to call either an ambulance or a responder – ‘ ambulance staff were saying “ call us first ” but other people said we could get responders there faster . It was 50-50 on it , so we decided we ’ d go with calling an ambulance and a responder at the exact
same time , which means we ’ ve got a better chance of saving someone ’ s life before the emergency services turn up .’
There are two sides to the app – the recently launched carrier side , and the forthcoming public side . Naloxone carriers can download the app from a web link or QR code designated for carriers only – once they sign up they ’ ll be live , but with the option to turn off the app if they ’ re not available . After the carrier side has been up and running for a while the next stage will be a version for the public . ‘ For every thousand members of the public who have it , we want 5,000 carriers ,’ Monaghan states . ‘ We want everybody in the UK who carries naloxone to download the app so when we go to the public we ’ re ready . We didn ’ t launch them at the same time because we wouldn ’ t want somebody pressing the help button and there ’ s no carriers in the area .’
So were there any issues of responders being uneasy about giving away their location ? ‘ We didn ’ t have any complaints about that ,’ says Gianello . ‘ I think people understand that we need to know their location if this is going to work – if I don ’ t know where you are I could be contacting you in London to come to Glasgow . We also let them delete all their data if
‘ I talk to people who carry naloxone and are trained in it but say they hardly ever use it – because they don ’ t know there ’ s an overdose happening .’
they want to , so I can ’ t see any problems with that .’
‘ Most smartphone apps will ask for GPS location permission ,’ adds Monaghan . ‘ But it will only be when using the app , so we won ’ t have people thinking they ’ ll be tracked .’
So how many downloads are they aiming for ? ‘ As many as possible , but if five people download it and a life is saved , then bingo ,’ he says . ‘ Someone presses that button and the responder says “ that ’ s me ”, and goes to save a life .’ DDN
App available at www . butterflyeffect . dev or scan the QR code