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

Just Posted

B.C. firefighters only responding to most life-threatening calls during COVID-19 pandemic

The directive comes after province spoke with paramedics, fire services, according to top doctor

‘An extra $220 every 90 days’: B.C. patients pay more dispensing fees due to prescription limits

Kelowna woman says it’s outrageous to charge for refills every 30 days

No more ferries will sail from Departure Bay, Mill Bay, Brentwood Bay during COVID-19 pandemic

B.C. Ferries announces major changes to sailing schedules for 60 days starting Saturday, April 4

Suspect arrested after allegedly setting house fire in Cedar

Firefighters arrived to find mobile home ablaze on Barnes Road on Thursday

‘Better days will return’: Queen Elizabeth delivers message amid COVID-19 pandemic

The Queen said crisis reminds her of her first address during World War II in 1940

Ongoing list of Ladysmith COVID-19 cancellations and closures

Everything in Ladysmith that has been impacted by COVID-19

Woman arrested in Nanaimo after attempted RV break-in with owner inside

Incident happened April 1 in the 700 block of Drake Street

Emergency aid portal opens Monday, cash could be in bank accounts by end of week: Trudeau

Emergency benefit will provide $2,000 a month for those who have lost their income due to COVID-19

Education, not enforcement: B.C. bylaw officers keeping a watch on physical distancing

A kind word, it turns out, has usually been all people need to hear

COVID-19: Hospitals remain safe for childbirth, say Vancouver Island care providers

North Island Hospital has been asked to share its perinatal COVID-19 response plan

Canadian cadets to mark 103rd anniversary of Vimy Ridge April 9 virtually

Idea of Captain Billie Sheridan in Williams Lake, B.C. who wondered what to do in times of COVID-19

B.C. VIEWS: Pandemic shows need for adequate care home staffing

Seniors in B.C. care homes face challenging times

Most Read