Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is DORS?
DORS is the Digital Overdose Response System, an App that will help protect you if you are using alone. First, you register with your mobile phone number and provide your location. Then, when using alone, you start a timer in the App. If the timer expires or you need help, the App will call for help and summon medical support if you need one or are unresponsive.
How does DORS work?
Albertans using substances alone can download the DORS app from Google Play or the Apple App Store and follow instructions for registration and set-up. You only provide information required to support you in the event you need assistance (phone number, location and any unique access instructions). The app has a timer that will alert you to check-in at various intervals to ensure your safety. Your session can be cancelled or extended at any time.
Based on user feedback, the total length of a session can be up to 30 minutes. If you do not respond to the timer, you will receive a call from the STARS emergency response centre. If you indicate you require assistance or do not answer the call, STARS will presume an overdose has occurred and emergency response services will be dispatched to the location you entered in the app.
Who can use DORS?
Individuals must have access to an Apple or Android Phone and to Wi-Fi or cellular data. The app will not work on pay-as-you-go phones.
Should I encourage others to use the App?
Yes. When fully launched, DORS will be free and available to anybody in Alberta.
Digital Overdose Response System (DORS) Overview
What personal information do I need to enter to use DORS?
When you register for the first time, the DORS app will ask you to enter and validate your mobile phone number by entering a four-digit code that you will receive in a text message. Before using the App for the first time, you need to provide your location and any access instructions to be found in the event of an emergency. Examples include which door to use, whom to buzz on a door intercom or room location.
Does the app report my position using GPS?
The App requires you to enable location services to determine your location. However, it only will do this once you start a countdown timer. Your location isn't known or reported to DORS until you choose to start the timer.
Why do I have to manually enter my location if my phone’s GPS is enabled?
There are limits to the accuracy of the location reported by your mobile phone’s GPS receiver. For example, suppose you are in an urban environment with tall buildings or in a high-rise building. In that case, the reported location will not be accurate enough to make sure a medical support attendant promptly finds you. Because of this, DORS will also ask you to manually enter your location, including information like your apartment number, if applicable, and any information required to access your location, such as a building door buzzer, for example.
Does my mobile phone volume need to be turned up?
Yes. To make sure you hear the alarm, the App will make sure your volume is all the way up before it will allow you to start the timer.
What happens if my mobile phone battery runs out while I’m using?
Once you start the App timer, you are responsible for ensuring that you cancel the timer before it reaches zero or you answer your phone if STARS calls. Otherwise, STARS will send medical support to your location.
If your phone battery dies, the timer will still countdown in DORS, and once it reaches zero, STARS will be unable to contact you and assume you need help. To make sure your battery doesn’t run out while using, the App will check whether your battery is low and ask you to charge your phone or plug in your charger before starting the timer.
What happens if I close the App or turn off my phone after starting the timer?
Once you start the App timer, you are responsible for ensuring that you cancel the timer before it reaches zero or you answer your phone if STARS calls. Closing the App, or turning off your phone, will not cancel the timer. The only way to cancel the timer is by pressing the “Cancel” button on the App. If you close the App without stopping the timer or turn off your phone after starting the timer, the timer will still countdown in DORS, and once it reaches zero, STARS attempts to contact you. If you turn off your phone, STARS will be unable to contact you and assume you need medical support. To prevent this from happening, once you start the timer, please ensure that you stop the timer once you are confident that you are safe.
If the timer reaches zero, is medical support automatically sent to my location?
No. If the timer reaches zero or if you push the “Emergency” button, a STARS agent will try to call you on your mobile phone number. If you can’t answer or answer and tell the agent that you need help, STARS will contact medical support and give the attendant your location, access instructions, and mobile phone number.
Will the police ever respond to my location?
While we work closely with Police Services to ensure they only respond when required and requested, there is a possibility police may be present during a medical response.
How do I get help on using the App?
To get help on using the App, or to provide feedback on using the App, visit our technical support page at dorsapp.ca/support, or from the App under Settings -> How to use the App.
We will aim to get back to you as soon as possible. For more information, please see the tutorials that might help answer your questions.
Privacy and Security
Am I tracked if I am not using DORS?
No. DORS will not report your position unless you start a countdown timer. Your location will also not be monitored by a STARS agent unless your countdown timer reaches zero or you push the “Emergency” button to request immediate assistance.
Do I have to give DORS my name or E-mail address?
No. The only identifying information you provide to DORS is your mobile phone number, location, and any information required by a medical support attendant to find you.
What personal information is stored?
There is no personal information stored, other than your mobile phone number, location and access instructions.
Is any of my data shared outside of DORS?
Your phone number and location are only shared with STARS if your timer reaches zero, or you press the “Emergency” button. STARS will only share your information with Alberta Health Services Emergency Dispatch, in order to call medical support for you. Your personal data is not shared with anybody else for any other reason. In order to determine if DORS is effective, your data will be combined with the data from other users in a summary report, in a way that ensures that you remain anonymous.
If I register on DORS, will I ever be contacted?
After you register on DORS, you will receive a text message on your phone asking whether you would agree to participate in a DORS survey. This message will include a link to the survey. The survey responses are voluntary and are entirely anonymous, and will be used to improve the service and measure it’s effectiveness. You may opt out at anytime.
Are mobile phone numbers securely stored?
Yes. The database of mobile phone numbers is stored in a Canadian cloud server, and fully protected with end-to-end encryption and encrypted storage.
Is DORS communication secure?
Yes. All communication between the DORS server and the DORS App is secure and encrypted using TLS 1.2 with 256 bit AES.
Where can I get more information on the app or order DORS promotional materials?
If you would like further information on DORS or would like to get some promotional posters, business cards or postcards with information about DORS and the province’s Virtual Opioid Dependency Program (VODP), please email AlbertaAddictionandMentalHealth@gov.ab.ca with your name, address and the quantity of each item you wish to receive.
The VODP connects individuals to opioid agonist therapy and related opioid treatment via videoconference with a physician. This service is available across the province, has no wait list and can be accessed seven days a week from 8AM to 8PM.
Where can I find data on overdose deaths?
Data regarding opioid-related fatalities and harm reduction service use can be found on the Alberta Substance Use Surveillance System (ASUSS) interactive dashboard. The data will provide a deep and broad perspective on substance use in Alberta, supporting recovery-oriented care for Albertans battling addiction.