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

Cowichan Valley family overwhelmed with 14 Lab puppies

Litter may be one of the biggest ever

Citing stability, B.C. Premier calls snap election for Oct. 24

John Horgan meets with Lieutenant Governor to request vote

Cowichan Performing Arts Centre, Big Stick light up red to signal COVID devastation

“COVID-19 has been truly devastating to the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre”

MacGregor hosting virtual town hall on green COVID economic recovery

“Making the right investment decisions now to ensure a visionary carbon-conscious recovery…”

Elder College going online with dozens of courses this fall

There are 16 courses in the September session

COVID-19: 4 more deaths, 366 new cases in B.C. since Friday

A total of 8,208 people in B.C. have tested positive for COVID-19 since January

Islands Trust Conservancy gets funding for protection of at-risk species

Conservancy manages habitat for more than 25 plant and animal species at risk

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

First full day of B.C.’s election campaign begins amid COVID-19 pandemic

B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson and the Green party’s Sonia Furstenau criticized John Horgan’s decision

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

RCMP issue two $2,300 COVID fines at same Metro Vancouver vacation rental within 24 hours

Cpl. Mike Kalanj said it was ‘quite frankly appalling’ to see parties breaking COVID-19 rules

Here’s how voting amid a pandemic will happen in B.C.

Elections BC has worked with the provincial health office to determine safety protocols for voting

B.C. privacy commissioner will hear First Nations complaints about COVID

The hearing will rely on written submissions from the Indigenous governments as well as the Ministry of Health

Most Read