Pubdate: Sat, 15 Jul 2017
Source: Baltimore Sun (MD)
Copyright: 2017 The Baltimore Sun Company
Author: Emily Chappell


After a year of having an opioid antidote in middle and high schools
in Carroll County, a new state law requires that the medicine be
available at the elementary school level, too.

The Start Talking Maryland Act, which lays out now-required opioid
education at least once at all schooling levels, also requires all
schools to carry naloxone, the opioid overdose antidote.

Filipa Gomes, supervisor of Health Services for Carroll County Public
Schools, said in addition to the extra naloxone, Carroll County Public
Schools staff are training more people how to administer the antidote.

Gomes said in the time naloxone has been in Carroll County schools,
they haven't had to use it. But it's still important to have the
antidote on hand, she said, especially "given what's happening in the
entire country."

In the first six months of 2017, Carroll County saw 253 nonfatal
overdoses from drugs or alcohol, according to information from the
Carroll County Sheriff's Office. There were 135 nonfatal overdoses
from heroin in that time period. Carroll law enforcement and health
officials have said that the availability and use of naloxone has
probably helped in keeping many of those nonfatal overdoses from
becoming fatal overdoses.

There is not much concern about the elementary school-age group of
students overdosing on heroin or prescription opioids, Gomes said, but
school officials also have to consider adults who may be in their
building for an event, for example.

"It's just better to be prepared," Gomes said. "It doesn't hurt to
have it available in the elementary schools."

The naloxone supply the schools have on hand eventually expires. And
because it isn't being used there, Cathy Baker, a deputy director with
the Carroll County Health Department, said a rotation system is being

Year-over-year atalities increase from 16 to 25; nonfatal overdoses
increase by nearly 100 (Jon Kelvey)

There's been discussion about keeping the naloxone in the schools for
a certain amount of time, and as the supply approaches expiration,
getting it into the rotation with law enforcement where it will be
quickly used, she said. While this hasn't yet been implemented, Baker
said that scenario is a likely solution to prevent wasting the antidote.

At Wednesday night's Board of Education meeting, Gomes told the school
board that CCPS gets the naloxone kits from the Health Department at a
cost of about $75. If the school system cannot get kits from the
Health Department, the cost would skyrocket to about $3,200, she said.

Currently, school nurses are trained to use naloxone in the instance
of an overdose on CCPS property. Each school also has trained
personnel who can cover for the nurse while he or she is at lunch or
otherwise unavailable.

There was talk when the antidote first made its way into the schools
of having athletic trainers learn how to use naloxone, though that
didn't happen in the first year. This year, however, athletic trainers
at the seven county high schools will all be trained in how to
administer naloxone, Gomes said.

Also, principals and assistant principals will be trained in how to
use the overdose antidote.

"As a backup plan we'll include administration," Gomes said.
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