Three Valley high schools and a technical school are among 128 statewide approved to receive an opioid overdose reversal medication through the Department of Health.
The Midd-West, Mifflinburg and Shamokin high schools and SUN Area Technical Institute, New Berlin, will receive two doses each of Narcan at no cost, the governor’s office announced.
The life-saving nasal spray reverses the effects of heroin and prescription painkiller overdoses.
“I never thought I’d even need to think about something like this in school, but at least we can be prepared,” said Ann Murray, a school nurse at Midd-West. “We hope to never use it.”
Mount Carmel, Shikellamy, Southern Columbia and Selinsgrove also applied to the state for the medication and await approval, according to district officials. Lewisburg and Danville purchased the medication independently.
Line Mountain has a policy in place to obtain and administer the medication, if necessary.
“We should be receiving the doses in the next week. Having Narcan is one of the preparedness components of our overall safety plan,” said Chad Cohrs, Selinsgrove superintendent.
Bernie Stellar, Mount Carmel Area superintendent, said preparedness is essential. His hope is the combination of education and awareness initiatives, including a visit last year by noted speaker Chris Herren, will have enough impact to prevent the need for the medication.
“We recognize that opioid abuse is a real crisis facing all Pennsylvanians and that our school district is not immune to its wrath. With that said, we want this life-saving drug available if needed,” said Paul Caputo, Southern Columbia Area superintendent.
Narcan, or the generic version naloxone, is a non-scheduled drug. According to the Department of Health, it blocks the effects of opioids on the brain and restores breathing within 2 to 8 minutes. Narcan has been used safely by medical professionals for more than 40 years, and its only function is to reverse the effects of opioids on the brain and respiratory system in order to prevent death.
"We need to educate the community and parents on Narcan. Surprisingly enough, a large number of parents have a mindset that it could never be their child. Many parents are also afraid if administered it will harm their child," said Jennifer Hain, administrative director of SUN Tech.
Increased availability of Narcan is a priority of the Wolf administration. A standing order issued by Physician General Dr. Rachel Levine acts as a prescription for all Pennsylvanians to obtain the medication at pharmacies across the state. Police officers and firefighters are permitted by state law to carry and administer Narcan.
Seventeen public agencies — 14 police departments, Union County’s sheriff and district attorney offices and the William Cameron Engine Company, based in Lewisburg — carry Narcan through a state program administered by Evangelical Community Hospital, Lewisburg. A combined 96 kits were issued to the agencies.
Milton, Mount Carmel and Shamokin police all have successfully administered the drug to people experiencing an opioid overdose.
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