Lyra Fletcher’s design of the Automated Naloxone Injector. (Lyra Fletcher)

VIDEO: Alert Bay pharmacist’s daughter invents automated device to prevent overdose deaths

The project was a finalist in the Youth Innovation Showcase

Alert Bay teen Lyra Fletcher was a finalist in a Youth Innovation Showcase, hosted remotely this week (June 10).

The showcase is put on by the Science Fair Foundation of B.C. with winners receiving $5,000 to further their innovations. Winners in each age category happened to have medically focused designs, although this was not a requirement. This marks the second year of what the Science Fair Foundation has confirmed will be an annual event, open for students in B.C. and Yukon.

Fletcher’s innovation is a self-administering naloxone injection, designed to be worn on the user’s upper arm. According to Fletcher’s research, two-thirds of opioid overdose deaths occur when users are alone, thus making the only solutions currently available – the naloxone injection kit and a nasal spray – useless in most overdose cases since they require a second person to administer.

Fletcher’s design would measure oxygen saturation levels, a key indicator of when someone is entering an overdose. A healthy saturation level is 94 per cent, with risk of hypoxia (oxygen deprivation) beginning when the saturation level drops below 86 per cent.

The device will trigger a naloxone injection if the wearer’s oxygen saturation hits 90 per cent or lower, along with a text alert and loud vocal warnings.

Fletcher did not win, but was one of five finalists in the 12-15-year-old category. There were 67 entries and 14 finalists.

At present, she’s working on assembling a prototype. The injection mechanism is finished, and she’s waiting on other pieces to arrive to assemble all the parts. The next big step is to write the code, which she doesn’t expect to be very complicated.

Fletcher’s father is the pharmacist in Alert Bay, which is where she first remembers seeing an advertisement for naloxone training. Her father explained the process, and she questioned the fact that you have to fill the needle with medication manually. As she researched more, she learned how many people tend to be alone when they’re using opioids — 63 per cent — and decided she could come up with a smarter option.

RELATED: B.C. records highest ever number of fatal overdoses in May with 170 deaths

“[Alert Bay] is very small, so when someone does die from an overdose, it ripples through. The one school here closes sometimes for funerals, and I just don’t like seeing people hurt. I don’t want that to happen anymore.”

She added that with the COVID-19 crisis, opioid deaths are on the rise.

“They’re saying this could be the highest month of deaths, so [this design] could really help people.”

Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email:
zoe.ducklow@blackpress.ca.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

ScienceTechnology

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Beloved Chemainus resident dies at 106

Dorothy Adair adored by the many people she met in the community in two short years

Sudden death leaves Lake Cowichan’s Shanahan family of five children without a father

GoFundMe campaign set up by wife Tiffany’s friend to help during crisis

From theatres to patios, Vancouver Island Symphony plays through the pandemic

A series of pop-up concerts are taking place in various locations from Saltair to Comox

Webinars provide emotional support, training for caregivers

Following the webinars, recordings of the sessions will be available to watch

Duncan model makes quarter finals in ‘Maxim’ magazine contest

Brandee Peart among top one per cent left in competition

Recent surge in COVID-19 cases not unexpected amid Phase Three of reopening: B.C.’s top doc

Keep circles small, wear masks and be aware of symptoms, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

B.C. NDP changing WorkSafeBC regulations to respond to COVID-19

Employers say reclassifying coronavirus could be ‘ruinous’

Baby raccoon rescued from 10-foot deep drainage pipe on Vancouver Island

‘Its cries were loud, pitiful and heartbreaking,’ Saanich animal control officer says

Statistical flaws led to B.C. wolf cull which didn’t save endangered caribou as estimated

Study finds statistical flaws in an influential 2019 report supporting a wolf cull

Windows broken, racist graffiti left on Okanagan home

Family says nothing like this has happened since they moved to Summerland in 1980s

Man arrested for allegedly pushing unsuspecting seniors, jumping on cars at Parksville mall

Cops arrest man after ‘aggressive incident’ at Wembley Mall in Parksville

B.C. man who went by ‘Doctor Ray Gaglardi’ charged with sex assault of teenage boys

The man, 75, is accused of assaulting teenage boys he met through Coquitlam-area churches

B.C.’s potential deficit $12.5 billion as spending spikes, taxes drop

Finance Minister Carole James gives COVID-19 outlook

Most Read