LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) – A London-area state representative has prefiled a bill to add the opioid antidote Naloxone, generic for Narcan, to the list of emergency medications schools must have an employee trained to use.
The drug is used in emergencies to stop an opioid overdose. State Rep. Derek Lewis’ bill would amend an existing 2014 law to include the drug among the training already required such as for insulin or seizure rescue medication.
“This bill would simply require that at least one member of a school’s staff receive training to safely administer a dose of Narcan. The issues surrounding opioid abuse know no boundaries. At the rate we are seeing overdoses increase, it is only a matter of time before they become a very real threat in our schools and school events,” Lewis added. “No one wants to look back and live with the regret that making a simple change could have saved a life.”
Lewis added that public health experts have shared with him that the training is brief and readily available, and local health departments already provide the Narcan for free.
Its presence in a school setting may raise some eyebrows. However, Lewis pointed out that schools are a gathering place in communities.
“We know that there are issues with opioid abuse in school-age children, but schools are also a central location for all kinds of events that bring people of all ages,” Lewis added.
Such a situation occurred at a Tennessee High School in November when a student’s vape pen was contaminated with fentanyl. A school resource officer and 2 nurses were exposed during the incident, all were treated and stabilized with Narcan.
“I’m not saying it hasn’t happened, but I can’t recall an issue like that happening. Is there an increase in society, in our community? I do believe that is the case, from what I hear from my emergency responder friends, so I do think it is an issue that is growing and has been growing for a while. As far as an impact on schools, I haven’t seen that yet,” Woodford County Asst. Superintendent Garet Wells said.
“There are some things about schools that might make them uniquely high-risk environments, I think the fact that there are so many people packed into one space along with the fact that it’s just sort of a stressful environment. There may be a surprising number of overdoses among people under the age of 18, so it’s a risk for them as well,” Dr. Alex Elswick said. Elswick is a co-founder of a local drug-abuse recovery group Voices of Hope. Elswick referenced recently released data from the Centers for Disease Control showing overdose fatalities surpassing a new record of more than 100,000 between April 2020 and April 2021.
- Emergency boxes containing Narcan put up across Madison Co.
- Richmond police officers, firefighters getting Narcan to help respond to overdoses
- Fentanyl blamed for sharp increase in Kentucky’s drug overdose deaths
“We never seem to have enough, I guess is what I would say, I would not say that the supply is keeping up with the demand so to speak,” Elswick explained regarding the pace of Narcan’s availability versus the rapid escalation of drug overdose incidents nationwide.
If the bill moves forward in the 2022 session, Wells hopes the legislation sets clear parameters for school administrators.
“Typically with something like this there would be required trainings, there’d be a roadmap for school districts to follow to implement such an initiative,” Wells said.