Pubdate: Fri, 24 Nov 2017
Source: Record, The (Kitchener, CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Metroland Media Group Ltd.
Author: Jeff Outhit


WATERLOO REGION - The public school board is considering stocking
every school with an emergency kit to fight drug overdoses, at the
cost of $119,000 per year.

Kits contain the medication naloxone. By injection or nasal spray, it
temporarily reverses the effects of an overdose of an opioid drug such
as fentanyl or heroin.

Currently, local schools are to call 911 if an overdose is

"If that was my child I would want someone to do something," trustee
Cindy Watson said, after pressing the Waterloo Region District School
Board to buy overdose kits and train staff to use them.

The board is weighing the idea after 58 opioid-related deaths this
year in this region.

"Why wouldn't you have it? It's something that could possibly save
somebody's life. So I think it would be a great idea," Jaimie Farrell
said. Her son Zion, 14, died of a fentanyl overdose at home in May.

Zion attended St. Mary's High School in Kitchener. A school naloxone
kit wouldn't have saved him, but it might save another child
experimenting with drugs, his mother said.

No local school has reported an opioid overdose.

"Our trustees and our staff are not experts when it comes to harm
reduction and drug overdose," public board chair Scott McMillan said.
He wants to hear from public health experts about stocking naloxone in

"There's no clear-cut answer. At this time schools don't present as a
high-risk setting," said Karen Quigley-Hobbs, a regional public health
director. "Ultimately it's a school board decision. They need to weigh
their risks and their benefits."

Local public health data shows that youths account for just five per
cent of overdose-related paramedic calls and just three per cent of
naloxone administrations this year.

Watson compares an overdose kit to a first-aid kit, a heart-restoring
defibrillator, or an EpiPen to fight allergic reactions. She frets
about waiting minutes for paramedics.

"My opinion? $120,000 is worth a life. It doesn't even compare to a
life," Watson said.

Public school trustees have asked board staff to consider how costs
for overdose kits might be reduced. One option might be to stock them
in high schools rather than all schools.

Local schools focus largely on prevention as part of a local anti-drug
strategy. Drawing on a revised health curriculum, teachers aim to
discourage or delay drug use, to stop children from becoming addicts.

Catholic schools don't stock naloxone kits but are researching the
issue "while our focus remains on education, awareness and
prevention," John Shewchuk, spokesperson for the Waterloo Catholic
District School Board, said in a statement.

The public board is drafting a new procedure on the safe disposal of
needles discarded by drug users near schools. It's due in January.
"We're going to need to co-operate with community partners to reduce
the risk posed by them," McMillan said.

Watson went looking and found five discarded needles at Galt
Collegiate Institute in Cambridge. She's pleased a protocol is coming.
"A lot of parents don't know. They don't know what is the protocol?
Are my children safe?" she said.

In Cambridge, volunteers and city employees have launched needle
cleanups to combat a spike in discarded needles. "This isn't just a
Cambridge problem," Watson said.
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