ALLENDALE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A push is on to put a life-saving drug in all New Jersey schools.
As CBS2’s Dave Carlin the drug is an antidote in case of heroin overdoses, and a bill requiring it is advancing in the New Jersey State Assembly and Senate.
School nurses at an increasing number of New Jersey schools have Naloxone – or Narcan by brand name — ready to go in nasal spray form. The drug revives overdose victims by flipping the off switch to receptors in the brain so the effects of heroin, OxyContin and other powerful painkillers get blocked.
The state pushed to get Naloxone in schools – suggesting, but not requiring it.
“We’re presently training our staff,” said Northern Highlands High School Supt. Scot Beckerman.
Beckerman’ school district is among the first to get it, after Ocean County, Ridgewood and a few other districts.
He supports making it mandatory.
“We’d rather be overprepared than underprepared,” Beckerman said. “It’s not just preventative for our kids and our community. It’s for those visiting the campus and those individuals whom we may not know as well as our own.”
In 2016, there were 87 overdose deaths in Bergen County, with first responders using the drug to attempt 207 Naloxone rescues. Even thinking about teenagers overdosing is tough for parents.
“Anything like that is definitely alarming,” said Edith Medina of Ramapo.
But many say having the antidote handy makes sense.
“It has to be in the correct hands and used under the correct circumstances,” Medina said.
Bringing Naloxone to schools is being sold as a better safe than sorry approach the doctors say can save lives.
“It temporarily blocks the effects of heroin,” explained Dr. Raffaella Kalishman of Waldwick Urgent and Primary Care. “So it buys you time to get the patient to the hospital.”
As to having the drug in schools, Kalishman said, “So the more people that have it, I think, the better.”
School nurses and athletic directors would be in charge of administering Naloxone. That way, if there is an overdose during school day or at an event or games at night, someone with a dose can dash to the rescue.
On Tuesday, a Narcan for Schools bill was approved by the New Jersey State Assembly Appropriations Committee.
Earlier this year, the Senate Education Committee sent a similar bill to the full state Senate.