Brad Pommen, president of SMRT1 Technologies, shows off a new vending machine at ANKORS in Nelson that carries items such as naloxone and syringes. Photo: Tyler Harper

VIDEO: Unique vending machine offering syringes, naloxone coming to B.C. cities

The machine is the invention of Nelson’s SMRT1 Technologies

Brad Pommen believes vending machines can offer more than candy and chips.

Pommen, the president of Nelson’s SMRT1 Technologies, introduced a machine last week that carries a mix of paid and free items such as naloxone kits, syringes, condoms and sundries like deodorant and toothpaste.

He says the machine provides 24-7 access to products and information in locations with fewer services to deal with the ongoing opioid crisis.

“I really want to be able to connect communities,” said Pommen. “In rural communities, these types of services are far reaching. They need to be everywhere, but typically because of dollars they’re not getting into rural communities.”

The unique machine features a large touchscreen that can show videos on how to use naloxone, connect users to local services such as shelters, display fentanyl alerts and provide data on community needs.

Pommen’s machine is currently set up at ANKORS’ overdose prevention site in Nelson. He said the company is rolling out five other pilot sites over the next three months at locations in Kelowna, Kamloops, Penticton, Surrey and Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside before placing up to 20 across Canada.

Cheryl Dowden, executive director of ANKORS, said the machine will be moved out of their office to a downtown location within the coming months.

“We want to move it outside into the community so that after-hours people can access those supplies,” she said. “People who access our services, people who are out in the club scene for the night, they can get some fentanyl test strips, they can get a naloxone kit. This is really for the community in its broadest sense.”

Three years ago Pommen noticed public schools were beginning to retire vending machines. His initial idea was to repurpose them as science kits for kids.

“After we spent about a year and a half building the prototype and getting it all set, we stood back and said holy, this is not something that’s in the rest of the world. We basically then took a bit more time on it to develop it into a fully robust system that can work for any retail industry.”

Related: ‘Like an ATM’: World’s first biometric opioid-dispensing machine launches in B.C.

Six months ago Pommen turned his attention to B.C.’s opioid crisis, which led to 981 deaths in 2019 and 1,542 in 2018. He partnered with Surrey-based NucleusLabs, who provide the machine’s medical technology.

In Nelson, Pommen is offering the machine for free as well as tech support while ANKORS provides the products.

He’s not concerned about the machine being broken into or damaged either once it moves downtown. The touchscreen is Gorilla Glass, which Pommen bangs on to demonstrate its toughness.

“Normally vending machines are quite robust in that sense, you don’t see them broken into that often. Usually they are broken down before they are broken into,” he said.

“So this allows us to use off-the-shelf vending machine technologies. We didn’t have to invent anything new, we just invented a controller that now gave this 30-year-old machine a new lease on life.”

And because it is a vending machine, there are also potato chips for sale.

“Because everybody’s hungry,” said Pommen.



tyler.harper@nelsonstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

opioid crisisvending machine opioids

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

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Barkerville writes a new page in its own history book

Kate Cox is the new CEO of Barkerville Historic Town and Park and Cottonwood House Historic Site

HAPHAZARD HISTORY: Ox team freighters play important role in Cariboo Gold Rush

The Cariboo Wagon Road was to provide a direct and dependable route

North Cariboo Seniors’ Council receives $10,000 from United Way

The funds will help the council provide meals to vulnerable seniors impacted by COVID-19

Regional district issues evacuation order for 9 residences near McBride

The Regional District of Fraser-Fort George issued the order on Sunday, July 4

B.C. accommodators need phone lines to light up as in-province travel given green light

Travel restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic have decimated the tourism and hospitality industries

Northern communities welcome tourists as province opens to in-B.C. travellers

Officials have asked British Columbians to be careful as they travel this summer

300 Cache Creek residents on evacuation alert due to flood risk as river rises

Heavy rainfall on Canada Day has river rising steadily, threatening 175 properties

First glimpse of Canada’s true COVID-19 infection rate expected mid-July

At least 105,000 Canadians have tested positive for COVID-19 since the coronavirus was identified

Police ramp up efforts to get impaired drivers off B.C. roads this summer

July is dedicated to the Summer CounterAttack Impaired Driving Campaign

Migrant workers stage multi-city action for full status amid COVID-19 risks

‘COVID-19 has exacerbated an existing crisis’

Okanagan school drops ‘Rebels’ sports team name, citing links with U.S. Civil War

Name and formerly-used images “fly in the face” of the district’s human rights policy, says board chair

PHOTOS: B.C.’s top doc picks up personalized Fluevog shoes, tours mural exhibition

Murals of Gratitude exhibit includes at least one portrait of Henry alongside paintings of health-care workers

In troubled times: Independence Day in a land of confusion

Buffeted by invisible forces and just plain worn out, the United States of America celebrates its 244th birthday

Most Read