Schools prepare to handle opioid overdoses

Posted: Updated:
MGN Online MGN Online

As the opioid crisis continues to roll across the country, your child’s school could be the site of the next wave.

Opioid overdoses are hitting young people particularly hard. Nationwide the number of opioid related deaths among 15 to 24-year-olds has jumped 33%, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Some Kansas schools are getting ready now to deal with opioid overdoses.

“That’s scary. That shouldn’t be something we ever have to address,” said Kelly Railsback, a Kansas parent.

Railsback says she worries every day about her kids and is glad to hear the Hutchinson Public School district is doing what it can to protect children from the dangers of opioid use. She waits outside Hutchinson High School every day to pick up her daughter.

“I’m not going to lie,” Kelly said, “I’ve sat here waiting for her to get out of school and seen some suspicious behavior.”

She’s one of many parents who worries about the dangers kids face at school.

“Today’s Hutch High is very different than when I went to school,” she said.

Opioids, from heroin to Oxycontin, are one of those new dangers students face. That’s something districts like Hutchinson recognize.

“Our nurses, our assistant principals, a lot of our staff have had these conversations,” said Ray Hemman, district spokesperson.  “If you’re not prepared for it, you can’t respond to it.”

The most important step is for trained school personnel to be able to recognize what’s happening and then to be able to help the student.  Some districts have discussed purchasing naloxone, the drug that can reverse an opioid overdose.  Hutchinson has decided to rely on the local EMS supply, for now.

“Hutchinson’s very fortunate. The district’s only 14 square miles. Response time for ambulances is usually two to three minutes,” said Hemman.

Based on CDC numbers, overdoses are more likely to happen at the high school level. But even elementary schools need to be prepared.

“Kids get into stuff,” Hemman said.

Parents like Kelly are glad to hear the district is worrying about their kids.

“We’re behind the school a hundred percent, as parents,” Kelly said.

Here in Kansas each school district is preparing in its own way.  Some other states, however, are legally requiring every school to stock naloxone as well as to undergo a minimum level of training.

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