Rochester Public School’s to have anti-overdose medication in district high schools

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(ABC 6 News) – In a recent school board decision, Rochester Public Schools (RPS) voted yes to implement an anti-overdose medication in all of the district’s high schools.

This new policy would require teachers and staff to be trained in how to administer Narcan (naloxone).

Narcan is a drug that rapidly reverses the effects of a drug overdose. When overdosing on fentanyl, for example, the victim stops breathing. Narcan opens the victims airways and allows them to breathe once administered.

If given to someone that was not overdosing, Narcan does not have any negative side effects, another reason why the policy was voted yes by the RPS school board.

The policy would also make the drug available, but regulated, similar to an EpiPen or an Automated External Defibrillator (AED), all found in school nurse offices.

The school board decision was decided on Tues. Oct. 18th.

The Steve Rummler HOPE Network is a Minn. non-profit organization dedicated to combatting the opioid epidemic. One way it does this is by giving free overdose prevention antidotes, like Narcan, to businesses, organizations and schools.

The HOPE Network will be distributing Narcan to Rochester High Schools by next week, according to Mamisoa Knutson, the director of communications for RPS.

Unfortunately, opioid overdoses is the number one cause of death for those aged 18-45, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency. Fentanyl accounts for 77% of those cases.

RPS board members say these free doses could not have come at a better time.

“The trends with the increase in fentanyl and opioid overdoses, we have sensed it change this year,” said Leah Bancroft, the health services coordinator for RPS. “We have had a couple of instances in our buildings where we have suspected overdose and potential opioid overdose.”

According to a statement from RPS, school staff say that if Narcan would have been available, it would have been administered.

During the school board meeting, Vice Chair Cathy Nelson agreed, “It’s better to be prepared.”

Rochester is not the only school district in Minn. having these discussions.

“You’ll look at the trends over the state, I think nation, a lot of my state colleagues are also implementing similar plans because it’s time,” explained Bancroft.

“Rochester is one of just dozens of schools in the past year that have made implementations like this in their districts,” explained Executive Director for the Steve Rummler HOPE Network, Alicia House. “They’ve taken a training, they have created a policy and procedure and they have Narcan on-site in case somebody does in fact suffer from an overdose.”

The HOPE Network also trains people on how to administer Narcan.

“People are a little bit afraid of talking about this, especially with kids and students, but if you’re not thinking that they’re already immersed in this, then you know I think there’s a wake up call that needs to happen,” argued House.

In Iowa, Clear Lake Public School District has Narcan in all of its schools, from elementary through high school.

Albert Lea and Austin Public Schools have had similar discussions of whether or not to implement Narcan in their school districts, however nothing has been finalized just yet.

Some say this can only have positive effects on society.

“I think there needs to be always, always Narcan available for whoever needs it,” said Coleen Tully, who lives in Minn. “Whether it’s a first time user or someone who’s been through treatment 15 times, let them have the chance at life.”

To find the nearest Naloxone Access Point, a publicly accessible and free site to pick up fentanyl strips and naloxone, click here.

For more information and access to products like fentanyl testing strips, click here.