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

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

An electronic sign at the Tofino-Ucluelet junction notifies travellers heading towards Sutton Pass that closure windows are in effect Thursday morning. (Andrew Bailey photo)
Survey swirls up confusion around Tofino-Ucluelet highway closures

“The Highway 4 Kennedy Hill Project closure times remain the same for now,” ministry says

Nuu-chah-nulth language champion Tim Masso holds his Rainy Coast Arts Award. (Jessie Masso photo)
Masso and Wenstob receive 2020 Rainy Coast Arts Award

Tla-o-qui-aht brothers share Pacific Rim Arts Society honour

Pamela Evans gazes lovingly at her four-year-old French bulldog Jack on Thursday, Nov. 5. The energetic young pup has regained his usual rambunctiousness after recently recovering from a significant illness brought on by consuming discarded cannabis new Brown’s Beach in Ucluelet. (Andrew Bailey photo)
Discarded cannabis a “frequent” threat to pets in Tofino-Ucluelet

“I couldn’t grab him fast enough to get it out of his mouth before he swallowed it.”

The School District 70 administration office in Port Alberni. AV NEWS FILE PHOTO
Four Alberni schools reporting COVID-19 exposures

Exposures occurred between Nov. 19 and Nov. 25 depending on the school

A lightning strike destroyed a radio repeater on Porter Mountain, shutting down the Ministry of Transportation and infrastructure’s highway cam at Sutton Pass. (BC Transportation and Infrastructure photo)
Lightning strike shuts down camera on Tofino-Ucluelet highway

“One of our radio repeater sites was recently struck by lightning.”

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Another 694 diagnosed with COVID-19 in B.C. Thursday

Three more health care outbreaks, 12 deaths

Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps poses for a photo with his parents Amanda Sully and Adam Deschamps in this undated handout photo. Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps was the first baby in Canada to be diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy through Ontario’s newborn screening program. The test was added to the program six days before he was born. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Children’s Hospital Eastern Ontario *MANDATORY CREDIT*
First newborn tested for spinal muscular atrophy in Canada hits new milestones

‘If Aidan had been born any earlier or anywhere else our story would be quite different’

A demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver Sept. 24, demanding more action on the Cohen Commission recommendations to protect wild Fraser River sockeye. (Quinn Bender photo)
First Nations renew call to revoke salmon farm licences

Leadership council implores use of precautionary principle in Discovery Islands

BC Ambulance Services reassures people that the service is well staffed and ready to respond. Photo by Don Bodger
BC Ambulance assures the Island community they’re ‘fully staffed’

‘Paramedics are not limited to a geographical area.’ — BCEHS

(Pixabay)
Canadians’ mental health has deteriorated with the second wave, study finds

Increased substance use one of the ways people are coping

A coal-fired power plant seen through dense smog from the window of an electric bullet train south of Beijing, December 2016. China has continued to increase thermal coal production and power generation, adding to greenhouse gas emissions that are already the world’s largest. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
LNG featured at B.C. energy industry, climate change conference

Hydrogen, nuclear, carbon capture needed for Canada’s net-zero goal

An RCMP officer confers with military rescuers outside their Cormorant helicopter near Bridesville, B.C. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey
Good Samaritan helped Kootenay police nab, rescue suspect which drew armed forces response

Midway RCMP said a Good Samaritan helped track the suspect, then brought the arresting officer dry socks

People line up at a COVID-19 assessment centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Wednesday, December 2, 2020. Toronto and Peel region continue to be in lockdown. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19 vaccine approval could be days away as pressures mount on health-care system

Many health officials in regions across the country have reported increasing pressures on hospitals

Most Read