Opioid Overdose Ambulance Runs: How Wisconsin Uses Free Text Data


In 2016, twelve states received Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Enhanced State Opioid Overdose Surveillance grants. The purpose of the grant is to explore enhanced data sources to track nonfatal opioid overdoses. One data source is ambulance runs. Wisconsin collects ambulance run information within the Wisconsin Ambulance Runs Data System (WARDS). Around 84% of all Wisconsin administrative services report into this electronic system. This is a timely, robust data system that has not been used previously to examine drug overdoses and presents an analytical challenge as it contains many free text fields.


1. Develop an understanding of the benefits and challenges of analyzing free text fields on a population level.

2. Observe how a complex surveillance definition can be created from free text fields.

3. Observe how an ambulance data system can be used to describe the opioid epidemic.

Primary Topic Areas: 
Original Publication Year: 
Event/Publication Date: 
January, 2018

January 25, 2018

Contact Us

NSSP Community of Practice

Email: syndromic@cste.org


This website is supported by Cooperative Agreement # 6NU38OT000297-02-01 Strengthening Public Health Systems and Services through National Partnerships to Improve and Protect the Nation's Health between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of CDC. CDC is not responsible for Section 508 compliance (accessibility) on private websites.

Site created by Fusani Applications